One more magnet experiment – making a paper clip hover

Previously we searched for steel balls and studied magnetic lines (you can see them here). I wanted to return to the topic and demonstrate that magnets assert an effect on a wider area than their own size, so we played with a paper clip and made it hover.

For this experiment you need:

  • a paper clip
  • two magnets
  • a ruler
  • some string
  • a way to hold the ruler up. We used Dublos as they are readily available at our house.
  • about 10 – 20 minutes of time

Preparation (in image below):

  • thread the paper clip with the string so you can pick it up by holding onto just the string (top left image)
  • place the magnets on either side of the ruler so they hold each other in place. I used to circular magnets, because that is what was readily available (top right image and bottom left image).
  • construct the support for the ruler (bottom right image)

Each of these steps is something the child can do. You can ask them to think about what would keep the ruler up and supported, ask them to search for the materials and build these steps.

Magnet experiment prep

Preparing for making a paper clip hover

The experiment: First show the child how to do this and then let them try

  • let the clip hang by the string. Gravity is pulling it down (top left image below).
  • then take the clip close to the magnet. The magnetic pull of it is stronger than gravity so the magnet pulls the clip so they touch each other (top right image below).
  • then pull the clip downwards by the string (bottom left image below). Pull slowly and steadily. One can feel the pull of the magnet and one can feel as that suddenly vanishes and the clip falls down (due to gravity as once again that is stronger than the pull of the magnet)
  • let the kid try and play with this.
Magnet experiment

A hovering paper clip

If you try these experiments at home and your child asks questions, please let me know what types of questions they ask in the comment section so I can further develop these instructions. If you have questions about these experiments or instructions, leave me a comment and I will answer and also improve these instructions. Also, please remember like and share if you find this useful.

Copyright text and images: Satu Korhonen. You are free to try these experiments out, use them in your teaching. But instead of copying the text or images, link back to this page.




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