Explaining the science of magnets to students can be difficult. Hearing the words come out of a teacher’s mouth is one thing but actually seeing the way magnets interact with each other and other materials can really help drive the point home.

These simple experiments with magnets will exhibit how magnets work while still keeping students’ attention.

Demonstrating Magnetic Fields

What you’ll need:

  • A disc magnet at least ½ in. in diameter and ½ in. thick
  • 3 feet of PVC tubing
  • A pencil
  • A 3 ft. long brass or aluminum tube that both the magnet and pencil could slide down

Beginning with the brass tube, ask your students to guess how long it will take for each object to fall through each tube. The pencil will fall much more quickly than the magnet! Then, drop the pencil and disc magnet through the PVC pipe and have the students guess the timing. Seeing magnetic fields at work and then hearing it explained will make learning about magnets not just interesting but fun!

Demonstrating Magnet Poles

What you’ll need:

  • Iron filings
  • A plastic soda bottle with the labels removed
  • A long, plastic test tube that can fit into the bottle
  • Masking tape
  • Small sphere magnets (small enough to fit into the test tube)

Fill 20% of the plastic bottle with iron filings before wrapping masking tape around the mouth of the bottle to ensure the test tube will slide into the bottle without falling in entirely. Once the test tube is fixed inside the bottle, drop magnets into the test tube and secure the lid.

Now that the bottle is complete, have one of your students roll the bottle on the floor and allow the iron filings to accumulate around the test tube. This will create a pattern around the magnets showing the lines of force created by the magnetic field.

These magnetic experiments will surely put a smile on their faces and magnetic curiosity in their brains! You can find all of the magnets needed for these two experiments at Apex Magnets. Be sure to check out our back to school educator edition piece!