magnetic crafts

It can be hard to find activities for the kids to do that are both educational and fun, but this experiment is just that. Keep your kids busy and their minds active this summer by making a magic spinning pen. The best part? You probably have all of the materials for this experiment already!  

Magic Spinning Pen

By using some ring magnets, you’ll be able to create a magic spinning pen. The kids will love this one as they’ll watch the pen spin around seemingly by itself, but you’ll love being able to explain to them how magnetism works through this experiment.

Before you start you should keep in mind: neodymium magnets must be handled with care to avoid personal injury as well as damage to the magnets. Fingers and other body parts can get severely pinched between two attracting magnets, and bones can be broken by larger magnets. Children should not be allowed to play with neodymium magnets as they can be dangerous with small magnets posing a choking hazard. As always, magnets should never be swallowed or inserted into any part of the body.

Now, let’s get back to the magnetic magic!

What You Need:

Steps:

  1. Use a cup to cut a circle out of the cardboard. Then, use a smaller cup or lid and trace another circle within it. Cut out the inner circle and set aside.
  2. With the larger cardboard circle, arrange three ring magnets equally spaced out. You want them to repel each other, so make sure they don’t connect with each other when they’re close to one another.
  3. Hot glue the magnets to the cardboard, then poke holes through the cardboard where the holes of the magnets are (this is where the sticks will go through).
  4. Grab a square piece of cardboard to act as a base, and attach the three sticks to it vertically with hot glue.
  5. Slide the cardboard ring with the attached magnets through the sticks, going about two inches down.
  6. Attach the fourth ring magnet to the bottom of the pen/pencil -- you can do this with modeling clay or tape. Place the pen inside the sticks and cardboard piece. The point is for the fourth magnet to be attracted to the other magnets so, you may have to swing the pen around a bit and adjust the height of the magnet until it connects to the other three.
  7. Add the scrapped center of the cardboard ring to the base cardboard to catch any pen markings.
  8. Now it’s the fun part! Spin the pen and watch it twirl.

If you want it to go faster, replace the small circular cardboard with a penny--tails side up works best! Once you and your kids get the hang of it, you can try out different coins to see how the spin is affected.

How It Works:

It’s easy to chalk this experiment up to magic, but, with this visual, it’s a great time to explain magnetism to your kids! The explanation is pretty simple. Magnets have both north and south poles. Opposite poles will attract each other and like poles will repel. When you placed the three magnets to repel each other, they created a magnetic field around themselves. Once the pencil/pen was placed inside the field, the repelling forces would bounce the object from magnet to magnet, allowing it to stand up.

This field has a strength and a direction, meaning, the magnetic field lines from each magnet come together towards the center, creating an invisible high-pressure magnetic vortex. When the additional magnet is placed within this vortex, it creates motion, which is why the pen will spin.

Find More Apex Magnets Crafts & Experiments

With a few objects you have laying around your house, you can create amazing magnet experiments to keep your kids busy for a while. If you enjoyed this, check out our other magnet experiments here and try your hand at a dancing magnetic motor or levitating paper clip.