Another great demo from the Demo a Day: Chemistry Demonstration Book. To get chemical reactions started activation energy is needed. During a chemical reaction, heat energy is often released (exothermic) or absorbed (endothermic). To get this reaction started, a pre 1982 penny is heated over a Bunsen burner. The penny is wrapped in copper wire and held over the flame with tongs. Once the penny is heated, it is then placed into the 125 ml flask that contains a small amount of acetone liquid at the bottom. The penny does not touch the acetone, but is just above the surface. The copper in the penny reacts with the acetone fumes to produce a very exothermic reaction where the penny glows. The penny will continue to do this for several minutes.
Preparations: Make sure you adjust the penny and the copper wire so the penny just sits above the acetone. Do this before you heat the penny.