Magnetic field and gravitation

If you have been watching us you could have seen our fun activity magnetic slime, a slime which we made move, stretch and follow our magnets. Teddy has various interactive books with magnets and some magnetic shapes and he knows that they will stick to his magnetic board or to a radiator but when we made the slime I think he understood for the first time the power of magnetic field. Since then we have tried different activities using magnets, you can see videos on Facebook, and Teddy has also been walking around the house with a magnetic wand looking for metal object and testing weather they have enough iron to be drawn to his wand.

I have also mentioned to him, briefly of course as he is only 2, the law of gravitation while we talked about objects always falling  down to the ground or to the bottom of glass container when doing our water density experiment.  I believe I already told you I do not want to overwhelm him with too much information but I do tell him things as they are especially if I see he is interested and it’s up to him what information he chooses to retain and which one he forgets, I do not ‘test’ him later. I have decided to do this activity as I believe that seeing it and trying it helps him to understand better and who am I kidding, it is also loads of fun for both of us!

It’s very simple and easy activity and all you need is:

  • Paper clips
  • Thread or a thin string
  • Magnets (we used strong neodymium magnets which you can buy on Ebay)
  • Ruler
  • Anything to build 2 equally tall columns (we used sensory blocks but you can use anything you have, boxes, Lego bricks, books,…)
  • Sellotape

 

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Firstly, build up your equally high columns, these are our sensory block we used.

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I have placed a ruler on top of our columns to hold the magnets but anything long and flat could be used, even a book.  If you have a metal ruler the magnets will just stick to it, ours is plastic therefore  I have placed one magnet on top of the ruler to hold the bottom magnet in its place.

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Tie the thread or a string  to your paper clip allowing extra length if it needs to be adjusted. You do not want the paper clip to touch the magnet but if the string is too short the paper clip will not reach the magnetic field and will not stay in the air which is what you want.

You need to secure the other end of the thread to a firm surface otherwise the paper clip will just attach itself to the magnet. I have just sellotaped it to our breakfast counter. Before you attach it, measure how long it needs to be so that the paper clip reaches the magnetic field. I have placed the ruler on top of the columns and tried which length will work before attaching it, the gap between the paper clip and magnet was about 2 cm. I did it while Teddy was busy working elsewhere so I wouldn’t spoil the element of surprise.

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I have removed the magnets at first and when Teddy came and join me I asked him to lift one of the paper clip and see if it stays in the air on its own. He tried and of course the paper clip instantly fell back to the counter. That was a good time to tell him more about the law of gravitation.

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Then I asked him if he remembers what we would have to use to make metal move. He played with magnets and paper clips only few days ago so he did not have to think long before answering me that we need a magnet. So I have reattached the magnets and asked him to try it again. This time the paper clip stayed hoovering in the mid air and he was absolutely astounded.  Well, you can see for yourself on the video below.

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He then played with this activity for very long time, he try to touch the paper clips and make them spin without  falling back to ground or moving his finger or other objects just above the paper clip to really make sure there is nothing holding it.

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I have also asked him to lift up the ruler in order to move the magnets further away from the paper clips and watch what would happen and as he watched them fall to the ground I have reminded him about the gravity.

You might also like some of our previous activities and experiments 

Thank you for reading us and please let us know if you have some ideas on how to expand this activity. We are always happy to hear from you!!

Teri & Teddy

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