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Marvellous magnets

Three fun experiments to help everyone learn about magnets.
Plan a session with this activity

You will need

  • Pens or pencils
  • Scrap paper
  • Scissors
  • Sticky tape
  • String
  • Magnets
  • Paper clips
  • Large bucket
  • Clear pots or bottles (with lids)
  • Selection of small objects (Some magnetic and some not; for example, paperclips, buttons, beads, tinfoil, elastic bands)
Fish templates
PDF – 110.7KB

Before you begin

  • Set up three tables with the equipment for each of the three experiments. We’ve included some instructions at the start of each experiment.
  • Make sure there’s at least one helper at each station to help explain the experiment.
  • Split everyone into three teams.
  • Each team should begin at a different experiment. After 10 minutes, the person leading the activity should tell everyone to move to the next station.

Magnet fishing

You will need: Paper fish, pens, scissors, sticky tape or string, magnets, paperclips and a bucket.

  1. Make at least 20 fish by cutting them out of paper.
  1. Write a number between one and five on each fish to show how many points they’re worth.
  2. Make the rods by taping or tying string to a pencil, leaving about 40cm of string dangling at the end of the pencil. Wrap the end of the string around a magnet a few times, then secure it with tape.
  3. Everyone should attach paperclips to the paper fishes’ mouths.
  4. Place the fish into a large bucket. This is the pond.
  5. Everyone should use a fishing rod to catch as many fish as they can in 60 seconds.
  1. The helper at the experiment should help everyone to count how many points they’ve earned (the number on each fish shows how many points it’s worth). The one with the most points is the winner.

Magic magnet jar

You will need: Clear pots or bottles (with lids), water, paperclips and magnets.

  1. Everyone should split into pairs. Each pair should get a pot or bottle, and fill it with water, and put a paperclip into it. They should then put the lid on tightly.
  2. Everyone should watch the paperclip sink to the bottom of the pot or bottle.
  3. Everyone should use a magnet to move the paperclip to the top of the pot or bottle, without touching the water. They should put the magnet on the outside of the pot or bottle near the paperclip, then slowly and gently slide the magnet up to the top. If they do it carefully enough, the magnet will bring the paperclip along with it.
  1. Everyone should try adding two or three paperclips to the bottle or pot. They should see how many they can move with the magnet.

Magnet predictions

You will need: A selection of small objects (some magnetic and some not) and magnets.

  1. Everyone should take it in turns to choose an object from the pile, show it to the group, and predict whether the magnet will be attracted to it or not.
  1. Everyone should mix up the objects and put them on the floor.
  2. Everyone should take it in turns to use a magnet to test their predictions. Everyone should talk about each of the results – some might be surprising. Steel drinks cans, for example, are attracted to magnets, but aluminium cans aren’t!

Reflection

The magnet experiments allowed everyone to use their problem solving and scientific skills to work out what was happening. Can anyone remember which things were magnetic in ‘Magnet predictions’? What was everyone’s favourite part of the activity? Were there any problems people had to overcome in this activity?

You could reflect together with a fun game. Everyone should walk around the space. Every time the person leading the activity calls out ‘magnet’, everyone should high five the person closest to them, just like a magnet meeting a paperclip. The new pair should share their ideas, before splitting up and moving around to play again. Anyone who doesn’t want to high five could just put their hand in the air.

Safety

Scissors

Supervise young people appropriately when they’re using scissors. Store all sharp objects securely, out of the reach of young people

Rubbish and recycling

All items should be clean and suitable for this activity.

Water games and activities

Be careful when doing activities with, in, or near water. Check surfaces and reduce the risk of slipping where possible. Make sure you have appropriate supervision for this activity.

All activities must be safely managed. Do a risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Always get approval for the activity and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.

Make it accessible

All Scout activities should be inclusive and accessible.