Have you ever wondered how a magnet works? I bet you all have at least one magnet on your fridge at home. How does it stick there, and why does it not fall off? Most of you probably know that magnets are attracted to metal surfaces, but why is that? Today, we are going to learn about magnetism by creating our very own magnetic goo! But first, you need to know a little bit about how magnets work.
All magnets have a north pole and a south pole. These poles are attracted to their counterparts. If you move the north pole of a magnet close to the north pole of another magnet, they will repel each other, but if you move the north pole of a magnet towards the south pole of another magnet, they will attract. This is why magnets stick together!
Magnets aren’t only attracted to each other--some metals, including iron, nickel, and cobalt are also attracted to magnets. Most refrigerator doors are made of steel, which is mostly made up of iron. This is why magnets are attracted to your refrigerator!
Before you move on, check out this link for some more fun facts about magnets!
Watch this video to help you understand the power of magnets.
Follow up questions:
- Why are magnets special?
- What is a magnetic field?
- What are poles?
- Which poles attract each other?
- What does magnetism have to do with our world?
There is a lot more to how magnets work and are made than you might think!
Activity: So you already know that magnets are attracted to iron. In this activity, you will be mixing ferric iron oxide powder with other materials to create a putty-like magnetic goo! Once you are finished with your creation, you can use magnets to manipulate the goo without even touching it!
YOU WILL NEED
- 1 regular-size bottle of school glue (ex. 4-7 oz Elmer’s School Glue)
- 3 tbsp of magnetic powder (this is actually ferric iron oxide powder and is available on Amazon or in most art supply stores)
- 2-4 oz of liquid starch (often used for art projects, but can be found in the laundry section of any grocery store)
- Neodymium magnets (Neodymium magnets are stronger than regular refrigerator magnets, which won’t work for this activity. Neodymium magnets are available at home improvement stores such as Home Depot)
- Mixing bowl
- Spoon to mix the ingredients
Here’s what to do!
- Measure out three tablespoons of magnetic powder and mix it in the bowl with the bottle of school glue.
- Use a spoon or craft stick to thoroughly stir the powder and glue together. Stir until there is an even consistency with no lumps.
- Measure out 4 ounces of liquid starch, and then add small amounts to the magnetic glue mixture at a time. Continue stirring as you add the starch.
- You may not use the entire 4 oz of starch... make sure you add it slowly and stop once you reach the desired consistency of your goo.
- After the starch is fully mixed in, remove the goo with your hands and knead it until it is pliable.
- Now the goo is ready for action! Use the magnets to draw your goo in different directions! Make designs or have competitions to see who can get their goo to “travel” the farthest!
- What can you do with your goo? Take pictures to record your experience! Does using more than one magnet make a difference? What if you use one magnet at each end? Have fun!!
Check out what you can do with your magnetic goo!