Have you ever thrown a penny into a fountain to make a wish? Did you ever think about what you’re throwing in there? United States coins are made out of a few different types of metals.
Pennies (1-cent coins) are made of copper and zinc. The zinc is actually on the inside, so we only see the copper color on the outside!
A nickel (5-cent coin) is made out of copper and another metal that is called nickel. That should be pretty easy to remember!
Dimes (10-cent coins), quarters (25-cent coins) and half dollars (50-cent coins) are made of three really thin sheets of metal that get pressed together. The outside layers of metal are copper and nickel. The middle sheet is just copper! You can see it when you look at the edge of the coins.
Dollar coins are made out of a different metal that’s called manganese-brass.
All coins are made in a special building called a mint. But it’s not at all related to the flavor!
ExplorationOne Hundred Pennies
There’s a story by Sharon Bell Mathis called The Hundred Penny Box. In it, a boy’s great-aunt keeps a box full of pennies“”one for each year she’s been alive. Each coin has the year of a different year of her life, and she can remember stories about what happened to her during each of them.
Check with a parent or grown-up first, but see if there’s a jar of loose change around your home. Can you find a penny for every year you’ve been alive? Can you think of things that happened during each of those years?
Keep your own penny box and add to it every year, and think about all the new things that have happened since your last penny!
There are other good reasons to save coins too. What reasons can you think of?
Sources & links
“Manufacturing Process for US Coins.” The United States Department of the Treasury. Official Website. 16 Jul. 2007. 8 December 2009. “Coin Specifications.” The United States Mint. USMint.gov. 8 December 2009. Hagenbaugh, Barbara “Coins Cost More to Make than Face Value.” 10 May 2006. USAToday.com. 8 Dec. 2009.