In this Activity, students make slurries of breakfast cereal and water and use a magnetic wand to collect elemental iron filings that are present in some cereals. They determine the mass of iron collected and then calculate the "recommended daily allowance" (RDA) in each cereal. An extension uses qualitative tests to confirm that the material collected is actually iron. This Activity connects chemistry to an item that students probably see (and eat!) often. Many students will find it surprising that metallic fillings are present in a food item. The Activity can lead to a discussion of why iron is/is not used in food items in this form. Instructors can also discuss biochemical issues such as what happens to iron in the body, why iron is a crucial nutrient, and the definition of RDA.
JCE Editorial Staff, J. Chem. Educ. 2004, 81, p1584A (Nov 2004).