This fantastic and easy demonstration of gravity and magnetism will impress kids of all ages. The paperclip doesn’t fall because it is attracted to the magnet and doesn’t jump up to the magnet as it is held in place by string, making it look like it is defying gravity and floating in the air!!
If you like this magnet trick, I’ve got 100s more fun kids’ science experiments to try!
Coloured paper and tape
Felt tip pens
Skewer – remove the sharp ends
First, decide on a theme for the magnet trick.
Decorate the box with coloured paper.
Cut out a small circle of cardstock and draw a picture on one side. Or use my free template.
Place a paperclip over the circle of cardstock.
The steps above are purely for decoration and completely optional. An empty and undecorated box works just as well.
Cut a length of string to about the same length as the height of the box.
Tie one end of the string to a paper clip and sellotape the other to the bottom of the box. The string length should be about 1cm shorter than the box.
Place the magnet on top of the box ( or stick it to the inside if you’d rather ).
Hold the paper clip just under the magnet. The paperclip will float in the air, appearing to defy gravity!
Magnet Trick – Extension Tasks
Wind and unwind the string
We added 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 exactly how far the paperclip could be under the magnet. We also found that this made our butterfly spin!
How far challenge
Try placing a ruler inside the box and measuring 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.
Try more themes
My under-the-sea magnet trick box worked very well too.
Why does this happen?
The magnetic force between the paperclip and the 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.
Remember, not all metals are attracted to magnets. Iron, nickel and steel are magnetic materials ( they are attracted to magnets ). Most paper clips are made of stainless steel, which is why this trick works!
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 and Magnetism Experiments
Investigate gravity with easy straw rockets.
Get a craft stick to balance on a chopstick like Rookie Parenting.
Can you make a list of activities that need gravity to make them work? Rollercoasters would be one.
Try one of my 10 easy magnetism investigations.
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Last Updated on January 19, 2023 by Emma Vanstone