This is a fantastic and easy demonstration of gravity and magnetism that will impress kids of all ages. The paperclip doesn’t fall down because it is attracted to the magnet and doesn’t jump up to the magnet as it is held in place by string.
Skewer – remove the sharp ends
We added a butterfly to our paperclip and drew a background of flowers, but this was purely for decoration, you could just use an empty box and plain paperclip.
First tie one end of your string to a paper clip and sellotape the other end to the bottom of your box. The length of the string should be about 1cm shorter than the box.
Place your magnet on top of the box ( or stick to the inside if you’d rather ).
Hold the paper clip just under the magnet, you should find it floats in the air.
Our next step was to add a method of winding and unwinding the string, which we did by wrapping the string around a skewer. This allowed us to slowly shorten the length of the string so we could find out exactly how far under the magnet the paperclip could be. We also found that this made our butterfly spin!
Try placing a ruler inside the box and measure how far the paperclip will sit below the magnet without falling down. Use different strength magnets to investigate if that changes how far under the magnet the paperclip sits.
Why does this happen?
The magnetic force between the paperclip and magnet is stronger than the gravitational pull of gravity. This means the paper clip remains suspended in the air rather than falling to the ground.
What is Gravity?
Gravity is a force that attracts objects towards each other. It is gravity that keeps us on the ground, when we jump up gravity pulls us back down towards the centre of the Earth.
What is a force?
A force is either a push or a pull, forces can make objects speed up, slow down or change direction.
More Gravity Experiments
Make paper spinners and watch them spin as they drop to ground.
Investigate gravity with easy straw rockets
Get a craft stick to balance on a chopstick like Rookie Parenting.
Can you use a force meter to measure 10 different objects around the house?
Can you make a list of activities that need gravity to make them work? Rollercoasters would be one..
More Magnetism Experiments
Try one of our 10 easy magnetism investigations.
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