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Build a device that can detect a small amount of magnetism

Suitable For

Grade 5



Time Required

 <24 Hours



What’s it about?

A piece of steel or steel nail can be turned into a ‘permanent’ magnet by stroking it several times with another strong permanent magnet. The strength of the new magnet is determined by how many times it is stroked with the permanent magnet, and if a nail is only stroked a few times with a permanent magnet, it will only have a very weak ‘magnetic force’.

This weak magnetic force is often not plainly observable and a sensitive magnetic detector is required to detect the force such as the one in the following science experiment:

Topics covered

Magnetism, Ferrous

What will I need?


Procedure (Method)

Unfortunately, this section is only available in the e-book version of the project.

How does it work?

Unfortunately, this section is only available in the e-book version of the project.

A magnet is a metal object of which its electrons are lined up so that it can attract other pieces of ferrous (metal) objects. This science experiment works because the mass of the metal staple is very small and because it is suspended from a very thin piece of thread, it does not require a lot of force to make it move sideways with the force of a magnetic field. Due to the device’s configuration, most other forces such as weight, friction and gravity almost have no effect, and one can measure magnetic forces quite sensitively.

The longer the nail in this science experiment is stroked by the permanent magnet, the more electrons in the metal are lined up and the stronger the magnetic field it produces. The longer any piece of metal is stroked by a magnet, the stronger a magnet the metal piece will become, but it can never become stronger than the original magnet!

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