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Defy Gravity with Magnets STEM Activity

STEM Activities

Fun Facts

  • Most metals such as copper, silver, aluminium, platinum, magnesium and gold are not magnetic.
  • Gravity makes waves that move at light speed.
  • When you throw a ball, the force of your throw moves it forwards, the force of gravity pulls it down and the force of air resistance slows it down.
defy gravity with magnets stem activity

Magnets can push or pull on special objects using a magnetic force. When you hold a magnet close to a paper clip, the magnetic force of the magnet pulls on the paper clip, making the paper clip move towards the magnet!

small magnets

What You'll Need

  • a strong magnet
  • paper clip
  • scissors
  • clear tape
  • string /fishing line is the best
  • astronaut pattern
  • space bacground
  • box (optional)

Instructions

  1. Build a simple stage. You can use a box or make it from LEGO
  2. Tape the magnet to the deck of the stage
  3. Tie a paper clip to the string
  4. Tape the astronaut to the clip
  5. Slowly lift the paper clip toward the magnet until it is suspended in mid-air
  6. Tape the other end of the string to the bottom of the box
  7. Move the magnet to see your astronaut move along with it
magnet assembly instructions

Key Concepts

  • force
  • gravity

Questions you may ask

  1. What happened when you moved the magnet?
  2. Put more clips on. How many clips can the magnetic force hold in the air?

Scientific Facts

Fact #1

The magnetic force is a consequence of the electromagnetic force, one of the four fundamental forces of nature, and is caused by the motion of charges. Two objects containing charge with the same direction of motion have a magnetic attraction force between them.

Fact #2

On Earth all bodies have a weight, or downward force of gravity, proportional to their mass, which Earth’s mass exerts on them. Gravity is measured by the acceleration that it gives to freely falling objects. At Earth’s surface the acceleration of gravity is about 9.8 meters (32 feet) per second per second The larger the mass, the larger the gravitational pull.

Fact #3

Then there is magnetism, which is a force that can attract or repel magnetic objects. When the paper clip is suspended in mid-air, the magnet is pulling it upward and gravity is pulling it downward. On the moon, which has a much smaller mass than Earth, the gravitational pull is much less and that’s why you feel weightless on the moon. Distance also impacts gravity. The farther apart two objects are, the weaker their gravitational pull is.

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