This easy science experiment is a fun way to demonstrate the concept of gravity and magnetism to young kids.
It takes almost no time to set up.
Warning: Magnets are very hazardous if swallowed. Please keep them away from children who still put everything into their mouths.
- paper clips (I used these color coated ones)
- neodymium magnet
- adult supervision
- Extend your hand with the palm facing down.
- Place the magnet on the back of your hand.
- Hover your hand over the paper clips and see them flying into your palm.
- Try putting different types of materials between the magnet and the paper clips to see what happens.
- Try varying the distance between the magnet and the paper clips to see if it changes the number of paper clips the magnet attracts.
A magnet produces a magnetic field around itself.
The magnetic field applies magnetic force and attracts the paper clips.
Even when you put an object, and in this case your hand, between the magnet and the paper clips, the magnetic field still exists.
Normally, the paper clips do not fly into a hand that hovers over them.
That is because gravity applies a gravitational force that pulls the paper clips toward the Earth (the table or the floor stops the paper clips from flying into the Earth’s core).
But in the presence of a strong magnetic field, the magnetic force can counter and even exceed the gravitational force, pulling the paper clips upward.
As a result, the paper clips are more attracted to the magnet than to the Earth.