Are we really eating nails? How can there be iron in our cereal? The mystery here is the teacher demonstrating that iron filings can be extracted from a sample of breakfast cereal.
Elements, compounds, mixtures.
12 to 15 years old.
Expected time for the mystery
Approximate time for teacher preparation: 15 min.Approximate time in classroom: 80 min.
Food used in any lab experiment is not to be eaten.Care should be taken when using food blender: ensure the blender is switched off at the wall until it is properly set up and ensure the lid is on before blending.Care is to be taken when handling hot glassware: use tongs or heat-resistant gloves.Disclaimer: the authors of this teaching material will not be held responsible for any injury or damage to persons or properties that might occur in its use.
Preparation and list of materials
For a teacher-engaged demonstration:
Breakfast cereal containing added iron
Projector (if available)
For a student-explore activity:
Pestle and mortar
Some materials can be found at home (food blender).
Neodymium magnets are more effective if they are available. These can be sourced from science education equipment suppliers. Care is required when handling these powerful magnets.
Students will learn about the properties of elements (e.g. iron).
Students will understand the difference between a mixture and compound.
Students will test and observe the properties of a mixture and a compound.
There are a number of YouTube videos showing how to extract iron from breakfast cereal: