Easy Magnet Science Experiments

Magnet science experiments can teach you about the invisible magnetic force that is all around us. As a child I liked playing with magnets. The experiments can be done with elementary aged children and adult supervision.

What Will a Magnet Attract?

You will need a magnet and an assortment of different items such as;

  • metal paper clips
  • some coins
  • pins
  • nails
  • paper
  • rubber bans
  • plastic bottle cap
  • tin can
  • anything else you want to test

Bring the magnet close to each of the items. When you are done you should have two piles. The first pile should contain items that are attracted to the magnet such as the paper clip, pin, and nail. The other group will contain all of the other items.

Making Magnets

The last experiment showed items that were magnetic and those which were not. You can make a metal sewing needle magnetic by stroking it with a magnet. Stroke the needle in one direction. Touch the needle to a paper clip.

If you do not want to use a needle you could try something else such as a paper clip. I tried a paper clip and did not get as good results as with a sewing needle.

Which is Stronger?

There are several types of magnets. Magnetite is a natural accruing magnetic rock. Magnetite is also called loadstone. Permanent magnets are made of steel or an alloy called alnico. Alnico magnets are made of aluminum, nickel, and cobalt. They are some of the strongest permanent magnets.

Even permanent magnets vary in strength. You can test the strength of your magnets by how many metal paper clips that it can pick up. For the experiment you will need two different magnets and about twenty metal paper clips.

Magnetic Poles

All magnets have a north pole and an south pole. The north pole of one magnet will attract to the south pole of another magnet. Also two south poles or two north poles will repel each other.

Making a Compass

The needle on a compass always points north south. You can make a compass by magnetizing a sewing needle and placing it on two pieces of cork in a dish of water. Some tips that I learned when doing this experiment was to use cold water because heat will destroy magnetism. Also use a dish that is large enough. The first dish that I use was too small and the cork kept hitting the sides before it stopped spinning.


This experiment has two parts. For the first part you will need a paper clip, a strong magnet, and different materials such as;

  • cardboard,
  • plastic,
  • glass,
  • fabric.
Place the paper clip on the cardboard and the magnet underneath. You should be able to move the paper clip with the magnet. Try the other items that you have collected.

In the next part of the experiment place a compass about ten inches from a magnet and notice the effect the magnet had on the compass. Then place a tin can between the magnet and compass. You can even let the magnet touch the can. The magnet should no longer have an effect on the compass.

We also found out that you can shield one magnet from another. We know that similar poles will repel each other. So we were moving a magnet around the table with another magnet. When we added a spoon to one of the magnet the other magnet would no longer move.

Other Experiments

I have shown you some of the magnet experiments that have worked for me. We have done others with varying results. There are several more experiments that you can do in the book Safe and Simple Electrical Experiments by Rudolf F. Graf.

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