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Effect of Different Materials on a Magnetic Field *

Time Required Very Short (≤ 1 day)
*Note: This is an abbreviated Project Idea, without notes to start your background research, a specific list of materials, or a procedure for how to do the experiment. You can identify abbreviated Project Ideas by the asterisk at the end of the title. If you want a Project Idea with full instructions, please pick one without an asterisk.


You've seen that a magnet's attractive force can cause a small object (like a paper clip) to "jump" to the magnet. So a magnetic field can act through the air, but what about other materials? Here's an experiment you can do to find out. You'll need a strong bar magnet, a stack of books, a paper clip, some thread and tape. Place the bar magnet underneath the top book in your stack, so that it sticks out. Tie a piece of thread (as long as the stack of books is high) to a paper clip. You will tape one end of the thread below the bar magnet, in order to adjust the height of the paper clip so that it hangs in mid-air, below the magnet (without touching the magnet). Now you can try placing various materials in the gap between the magnet and the paper clip to see what effect they have on the magnetic field. For example, you might try a piece of paper, cardboard, the top of a tin can, aluminum foil, a sheet of plastic, etc. Try different thicknesses of materials. What are some similarities between materials that block the magnetic field? Between materials that do not block the magnetic field? Try to make predictions about other materials, and then test your predictions. (Gardner, 2004, 72-73)

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Science Buddies Staff. "Effect of Different Materials on a Magnetic Field" Science Buddies. Science Buddies, 30 June 2014. Web. 31 Oct. 2014 <http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project_ideas/Elec_p042.shtml>

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Science Buddies Staff. (2014, June 30). Effect of Different Materials on a Magnetic Field. Retrieved October 31, 2014 from http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project_ideas/Elec_p042.shtml

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Last edit date: 2014-06-30


Gardner, R., 2004. Electricity and Magnetism Science Fair Projects: Using Batteries, Balloons, and Other Hair-Raising Stuff. Berkeley Heights, NJ: Enslow Publishers.

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