Summer break is officially underway but that doesn't mean that experiments and learning have to stop! This month, we put together a compilation of some of our favorite magnetic experiments and some new "games" that can be played. Great for a rainy day or when boredom starts to set in.
**Neodymium magnets are extremely powerful, all experiments and games should be done with adult supervision**
Below is a list of some of our favorite at-home science experiments! We'll try to list the magnets we like to use, or include links to previous articles that have magnet suggestions. Our EDU1 education sample pack could be a great starter kit!
Clamp a pair of magnets on a string, without any steel objects or other magnets nearby. The magnets are free to twist, so they align themselves with the earth's magnetic field; they point along a north-south line. We chose a black D84PC-BLK disc and a black and red D84PC-RB magnet for this, because it's easy to assemble with the red sided north pole.
After you touch the magnet, it might wobble for a while before it settles down to point north. This can take a little patience.
Learn more in our earlier article, Which Pole is North?
The homopolar motor is a very simple demonstration of how you can get something spinning with a battery, some wire and a magnet. It's not strong enough to do much useful work, and really uses up a battery quicky. We love its simplicity and accesibility.
Audio speakers are made with a magnet and a coil of wire. From the cheapest PC speakers to the nicest headphones, speakers work by the same basic principles shown in this rough prototype. With magnets and some wire, we can turn anything into a speaker! We describe this in our Audio Speakers article.
Eddy current demonstrations always seem to provoke a sense of wonder. The classic demo of dropping a magnet down the inside of a copper tube or pipe is great. You can also slide it along a flat surface. We used DAA and DEX0 magnets for these demonstrations.
A swinging pendulum is another great way to show this effect. A magnet on a string that swings close to a sheet of aluminum stops suddenly, for a great effect.
Using a AA battery, some magnets, and some (bare) copper wire, you can make an awesome magnetic "train"! See our Simple Magnetic Train article for more information.
Next, a AA battery, magnets, and some aluminum foil, make a magnet "car" that rolls along all by itself! See our Magnet Car article for more information and suggestions.
Construct a flashlight using a strong magnet and a coil of wire, as described in our Shake Flashlight article.
We show this off in a few previous articles, see our Gauss Guns, Gauss Cannon and Magnetic Mechanisms articles for examples of these.
Did you know that cereal contains real iron? You may have seen it on the nutrition facts...and it actually attracts to a magnet as we show in our Magnetic Cereal article! Which cereals in your cabinet have the most iron? Let us know!
We used D68PC-RB and B666 magnets to demonstrate, plus a dangerously strong DCY0 cylinder. If you use really large magnets like this, be careful handling them! They are not for kids, and can be dangerous if allowed to slam into other objects or magnets.
With just a few parts, you can make a very simple motor. Our Simple Motor article has step by step instructions and a material list.
Magnets are everywhere! Can you see how many products in your home contain magnets? Our Magnetic Viewing Film is a great way to do this. It can "show" the magnetic field of a magnet.
Check out the video below to see 4 simple, addicting games you can play with magnets! Adult supervision is required, magnets are not for children.
Summary of what magnets we used for each game:
Magnetic "Darts" - D84PC plastic coated magnets. We have 8 different colors, which means up to 8 different players! Simply tape or use magnets to hold a printed dartboard to a fridge door, or other steel surface.
Magnetic Bocce - DC6PC-WHT as the Pallino, D84PC as the bocce. We also played this on a steel surface to help contain the magnets.
Ring Toss - We made a simple wooden "T" shaped frame. We hung a plastic ring from a MM-E-16 at each end of the "T", with a MMS-E-A on the either side of the vertical piece. First to get the ring on the hook wins! We have larger hook magnets for larger versions of the game.
Fishing for objects/letters - We taped some D201 to styrofoam letters and ping pong balls, with a R424DIA on the end of a string. What words can you spell with the letters you "catch"? Make it harder by blind-folding the fisher! Stronger magnets would be needed for heavier objects. The D41 and R6036DIA could be a good choice too.
What are some of your favorite magnet experiments and/or games? Let us know!