Playing with magnets is always fun.
We bought some very strong magnets recently and they are perfect to show what magnetic field looks like.
- a few strong magnets (neodymium magnets, a rare earth metal, are very strong magnets)
- iron filings
- a piece of paper
- adult supervision
- Put two magnets underneath a piece of paper with 1 inch apart.
- Carefully and slowly shake some iron filings onto the piece of paper above the magnets.
- If the iron filings are too far from the magnets, gently tap or shake the paper to move them closer to above the magnets.
- Observe how the filings move and distribute on the paper.
- Next, remove the iron filings or carefully poor them back into the bottle.
- Flip one of the magnets upside down.
- Repeat steps 1-4 to see what iron filing pattern is formed this time.
Magnet attracts iron and the magnetism can act through many materials such as paper. When iron filings are spread over the magnets, you can see the outline of the magnetic force or the magnetic field.
There are two poles in a magnet: a north pole (N) and a south pole (S).
Opposite poles attract. So when two magnets with opposite poles facing each other (e.g. one N and one S), magnetic forces appear between them. Iron filings are then aligned with the force field between the two magnets.
Same poles repel. So when two magnets with the same poles facing each other (e.g. both are N), each magnet’s force field moves away from the other. Because iron filings are aligned with the force field, they move away from the middle between the two magnets when you gently shake the paper.