Science Fair Projects Featuring Magnets
By Shalea Hardison
Magnets make a fascinating subject for science fair projects, while illustrating many basic principles of science and generating downright fun experiments.
Illustration from Science Buddies.
Below 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 recent years. 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 also can build propulsion mechanisms with the train, or measure how other variables like temperature, weight and material selection affect the motion.
Homopolar motors are the simplest electric motors generating rotational movement and are simple to create with basic components and magnets. KOTTKE.ORG has a great how-to video demonstrating 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.
Can you stomach this experiment? Photo by Steve Spangler Science.
Compare types of cereal, breads, pastas, or snack bars to see which product contains the largest amount of Iron. 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!