magnet projects

By: Edwin Meitus –  Every child benefits from fun that is also educational, and 10 fun projects with magnets fill the bill nicely. This list is divided evenly between “experiments” (1 through 5) and “projects” (6 through 10) so you can keep the attention of your budding scientists as well as your future artists. 

There are plenty of places to get your magnets, and don’t forget the many different kinds available. They come in all sizes and shapes, colored and plain, and even in flexible sheets that can be cut into any shape.

For the following activities, you will need a variety of magnets and other supplies. Instead of making one materials list for you, however, it is suggested that you decide which activities you (and your kids) want to do, then assemble your supplies from the list in each activity description.

Note: The “you” in the following instructions can mean the parent or the child. Frankly, these activities are fun and interesting for all ages!

1. Make a compass

You will need the following items:
– non-metallic bowl filled with water
– metal pin
– magnet
– cork

This experiment will show how to make a compass that points true North.

Magnetize the pin by holding it in your hand and stroking it with the magnet in one direction only, from the base (head) to the point. Lift the magnet off at the point, then begin again at the base. Repeat this at least 25-30 times.

Now push the pin through the piece of cork so that the cork is in the middle of the pin, and put the cork/pin in the (non-metallic) water-filled bowl. The pin should have been made magnetic enough to point North.

You can also try seeing how strong your new pin magnet is by seeing if it will pick up small metal objects, such as paper clips.

2. Polar attraction/repulsion A

You will need the following items:

– two (2) bar magnets

Magnets, of course, have north and south magnetic sides. Depending upon which ends (or sides) that you force together, they will either attract strongly or not at all. If you put north and south magnetic poles together, they will attract. If you put two similar sides together, north or south, they will either not attract or they will actually repel one another.

With this experiment, you and your children will discover the force of the attraction or the repulsion of the magnet.

Place two opposite ends together and you will notice that they instantly attract to one another. Lesson: north and south poles on the magnet attract one another, at different strengths depending on the magnets and the conditions.

Now try to force the two north sides of the magnets together. You will be able to feel as the poles repel one another. You can do the same thing with the south sides and will notice the same effect. You can measure the force by holding the same poles together and slowly releasing your hold on the magnets.

3. Polar attraction/repulsion B

Using the same bar magnets, place them down on a table. Take one magnet with north side pointing forward and push it close to the other magnet’s north side. The magnet you are not holding will move away from the one you are, and even try to turn itself around.

This shows that the south side is attracting your magnet’s north side. You can determine the magnet strength by seeing how far away you can be and still have these effects.

4. Polar attraction/repulsion B Again using the same kind of magnets, but three to five of them, experiment with pushing the magnets in a kind of “magnet train.” Line magnets up with south sides facing south and north sides facing north, then push the first magnet and watch the other magnets jump forward.

Keep lining up magnets this way and see how many you can get to work together in your “train.”

5. The floating magnets

You will need the following items:

– five (5) to eight (8) “donut” magnets (the ones with the holes in the middle)
– one (1`) wooden rod that will fit through magnet holes
– base for rod (wood or modeling clay)

If you cannot buy or construct a base for the rod, you can stand it up in a wad of modeling clay. It won’t be bearing much weight, so it doesn’t have to be “over prepared.”

First, determine the magnetic forces of the donut magnets and which side is north or south.

Remember, of course, that polar opposites attract. Now put three or four magnets along the bottom of the wooden rod as it is standing. The positioning of the magnets is important: Place all of the magnets with south at the bottom, so when you stack up the three or four magnets, the north (top) part of the bottom magnet will attract the bottom (south) side that you place on top of it. Thus, at the very top of the pile, you will have a north side.

Place the next magnet with the north end down. It will not attract to the north side below it, so it will “hover” over the other magnets. You can continue the hovering demonstration by placing another magnet, south side down this time, on the rod. This new magnet will also hover, as will any others you position on the rod (remembering to alternate the north/south orientation).

6. Sheet magnet fun A: Refrigerator magnets

You will need the following items:

– several letter-size sheets of flexible magnetic material, white on one side
– family photos or kids’ artwork
– glue or paste, scissors

Have the kids decide whether they want to make their refrigerator magnet with a drawing or a photo. It could be great fun for each child to make his or her own photo magnet.

Cut the drawing or photo out and trim it nicely. Place it on the magnetic sheet and trace the shape with a pencil, then cut the shape out of the magnetic sheet. Glue the drawing or picture to the magnetic material.

7. Sheet magnet fun B: Word magnets

You will need the following items:

– list of common words for sentence formation (Internet)
– computer and printer (alternative: Sharpie pens)
– several letter-size sheets of flexible magnetic material, white on one side
– glue or paste, scissors

On the Internet you will find various sources for lists of commonly used words. You need a selection of nouns, verbs, articles and other kinds of words for sentence formation, but include a few family favorites, names, nicknames, etc.

Print out the list on your computer printer, with each word in a 1/2-inch by 2-inch area. Alternatively, if you do not have a printer you can use Sharpie pens to write the words on 1/2-inch by 2-inch strips of the magnetic sheet.

Cut and paste the words onto appropriately sized strips of the sheet material. Place the magnetic words on the refrigerator or stove front. Leave surprise messages for one another, make up silly sayings or have fun just jumbling them up!

8. Sheet magnet fun C: Kiddie business cards

You will need the following items:

– several letter-size sheets of flexible magnetic material, white on one side
– kids’ artwork and old magazines (for pictures, words)
– glue or paste, scissors

Trace a standard business card on the sheets, or draw a 2-inch by 3.5-inch rectangle. Have your kids find pictures that apply to their personalities tigers for the rough and tumble, princesses for the dainty little ladies, or vice versa! They can write their names, and make themselves the president of any company they’d like to invent. The finished cards can go on the fridge, inside their school lockers or anywhere else a magnet will stay put.

9. Colored magnet tic-tac-toe

You will need the following items:
– bag of colored magnets (same size, different colors)
– a 5-inch square of magnetic sheet, white on one side
– ruler and Sharpie pen

Draw a tic-tac-toe playing square on the magnetic sheet. This will go on the fridge, the front of the stove or some other centrally located place. Keep a bag of similarly-sized magnets of different colors near the play square and, picking one color for yourself and another for your opponent, make a tic-tac-toe move each time you pass by that area. Check through the day and watch for your opponent’s move. This is a great way to stretch a game of tic-tac-toe out for a day, sometimes, while giving you the opportunity to grab a snack out of the fridge, too.

10. Personalized memo-holder

You will need the following items:

– bar magnet, at least 1/2-inch wide, three (3) to four (4) inches long
– paper, colored pens and pencils, scissors, glue

Trace the shape of the bar magnet onto a piece of paper. This will show you how much room you have to write your name and draw a design. You can write your name simply or color your letters differently, even adding designs and other shapes. Cut the piece of paper out and glue it to the side of the bar magnet. Now you have a way to put your “to do list” or your “memo to Mom” on the fridge door, stove front or any other magnetic spot.

What with all the letters and shapes and pictures and name-tags resulting from these projects, there could be a real upsurge in “magnetic publishing” in your house. The magnetic words, in particular, have great educational value, and the lessons learned in the simple magnet experiments are helpful as well as entertaining. With just a few magnets and art supplies, you can attract a whole lot of fun to your house!




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Families Online MagazineGeneral EducationActivities for Kids,Ages and Stages,Crafts for Adults,Family Fun,School and Education,Seasons – Spring – Summer- Fall- WinterBy: Edwin Meitus -  Every child benefits from fun that is also educational, and 10 fun projects with magnets fill the bill nicely. This list is divided evenly between 'experiments' (1 through 5) and 'projects' (6 through 10) so you can keep the attention of your...Parenting and Family Fun Activities for Kids