Magnets make a fascinating topics for science fair projects, as well as illustrating many basic principles of science and generating downright fun experiments.
As science fair projects begin in earnest, here is a collection of some of the best science fair projects or experiments involving magnets we’ve seen.
1. Magnetic Levitation- Maglev trains have been big news in the past year. Explore the science behind the future of mass transit with basic (or not so basic) magnet levitation experimentation. Simple experiments show how magnets levitate using their repelling force. Science Buddies details a great experiment building a small maglev train. More advanced students can also build propulsion mechanisms with the train, or measure how other variables like temperature, weight and material selection affect the motion.
2. Electromagnets- Homopolar motors are the simplest electric motors generating rotational movement; and are simple to create with basic components and magnets. In this link, see how to make a simple car using just a basic AA battery, two rare earth magnets and some foil. Other versions of this project include shaping wire to spin, or adding a screw or bolt into the configuration. Regardless of the setup, these experiments are excellent introduction to electromagnets and motors.
3. Eat Iron – This simple experiment is visually amazing, involves searching out iron in ‘iron fortified’ food and might require a strong stomach. Cereals, and other iron-fortified foods, really do have iron added to their recipe, making them healthier for many. In this experiment, dissolving the cereal in water lets students see the exactly how much iron could be consumed as the magnet pulls the element away from the food. Compare types of cereal, breads, pastas, or snack bars. Visit Steve Spangler Science for more information on this experiment.
4. Lenz’s Law – Explore Lenz’s Law with a stop watch, various thicknesses of copper tubes and magnets. This is a YouTube favorite, and for good reason – it’s a strong visual representation of eddy currents as they relate to a magnetic field. Education.com details a basic experiment, which can be expanded to add different materials, thicknesses of materials and strengths of magnets. Watch a video detailing this here.
These experiments can all be done with materials – including the magnets – found at your local hardware store or craft store. In some cases, complete kits are available from educational suppliers. If you’re looking for assistance with types of materials needed, our magnetic products specialists are available to assist.
If you, or your favorite student, has a magnetic science fair project or experiment, share the experience with us!