Monday, April 28, 2014

Magnet Play: 2-D Magnetic Fields, Magnetic Art, Making a Compass

Making your own compass is fun and easy---you just need to magnetize a needle. Do this by stroking a magnet in the same direction 30 or 40 times along the shaft of a needle. Poke the needle through a square of tissue paper (to give it more surface area, so it will float---it needs to be able to turn freely, with little resistance or friction) and float it on water. It will turn until it's pointing north. You can check it with an already-made compass, or by bringing magnets close to it to make it turn around.

You can also make a visible magnetic field by putting a magnet underneath a piece of paper and sprinkling iron filings on top. These are so beautiful!

And there are lots of other fun ways to play with magnets too.

We also made magnetic art, with moving parts controlled by magnets. The children drew a picture that needed motion (Seb and Abe made trains, Ky made a sun orbiting another sun) and attached a paper clip to the back of the part that needed to move. Then they could move it around "magically" by using a magnet behind the picture.

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