Experiments with bar magnets: An extension lesson with your Seesaw Science Kit

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Experiments with bar magnets: An extension lesson with your Seesaw Science Kit

Apr 21, 2020

Having bar magnets from your science kits and wondering what are other experiments to do? Join us now for H.O.T! In our Hands-On-Time, we will repurpose items found at home together with your bar magnet to explore more about our Earth’s magnetic poles and magnetic forces.

Hands-On-Time Experiment List

  • Block that magnet power! – Magnetism on magnetic and non-magnetic materials
  • Bar magnet compass – The Earth is a planet magnet!
  • Transfer the MAGNET POWER – Making temporary magnets


Test out your magnet knowledge with a fun quiz game!

Block that magnetic power! – Magnetism on magnetic and non-magnetic materials

So you already know the magnetic field of magnets can pull on or attract objects that contain the magnetic materials. We can demonstrate this with a floating paperclip that is attracted by a magnet.


Another cool thing about magnetism is that it can pass through non-magnetic materials.
Let’s build this set-up to investigate!

Now we are ready to test! Grab any flat, non-magnetic material, like a card, and insert it in the gap between the magnet and the paperclip.

gif card experiment optimised

Now grab some coins to test, the outcome might surprise you!

gif old sg coin

Our old edition Singapore coins do not contain any of the magnetic metals!
So the magnetic field passes through the old coin and continues to attract the paperclip.

gif new sg coin

The new edition Singapore coins contain iron metal! This means the new coins are made of magnetic materials. When we place the magnetic new coin between the paperclip and magnet, the magnetic field does not pass through the coin, and no longer attracts the paperclip. With no magnetic force attracting the paperclip, it falls down to the ground!

Bar magnet compass – The Earth is a planet magnet!

Did you know that our home planet is a huge magnet? Molten iron deep within the Earth’s outer core generates a huge magnetic field that encompasses the entire planet!

When we suspend a bar magnet freely, the Earth’s magnetic field interacts with the magnet and aligns it in the North-South direction! In fact, that is how the poles of a magnet are named! The end of the magnet that points to the North is the N-pole, while the end of the magnet that points to the South is the S-pole.

Set up this quick experiment to investigate!

compass experiment optimised

Placing a bar magnet on a floating platform allow it to rotate freely to align itself in the North-South direction of the Earth!

Transfer the MAGNETIC POWER – Making temporary magnets

We all can agree the power of magnets is awesome. Lucky for you, your bar magnet has the power forever, right? Well, not exactly.

Permanent magnets can lose their magnetism if they are heated above a certain point known as the Curie temperature – for iron magnets, you have to heat it above 710ºC! (we do not recommend this experiment). Some magnets can also weaken with a sudden applied force like hitting it with a hammer or dropping it on the ground.

We can also use permanent magnets, like your bar magnet, to turn magnetic objects into temporary magnets! As the name suggests, magnetism on temporary magnets depletes quickly and they only retain their magnetism for a limited time.

Let’s make a temporary magnet! Find a long magnetic metal object, like a nail or scissors, grab your bar magnet, and let's start!

  • With one pole of your magnet, stroke the metal object from one end to the other
  • Repeat the stroking process about 20 times using the same pole and in the same direction

temporary magnet part 1

temporary magnet 2

Congratulations on completing all experiments! Try out the Magnets Quiz to check what you have learnt!