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Mapping Magnetic Fields *

Time Required Short (2-5 days)
*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 probably know that you can use iron filings to reveal the magnetic field produced by a strong magnet. If you sandwich the iron filings between pieces of waxed paper, you can make a permanent record of your magnetic experiments (Gardner, 2004, 66). Cover the wax paper sandwich with a layer of brown paper (from a roll, or cut open a paper shopping bag), and then (with an adult's help) use a hot, dry iron to seal the waxed paper together. You will have to experiment a little with your iron to figure out the best settings and length of time to heat the waxed paper, but with a little practice it will work well. Of course, you'll want to set this up on a surface that's safe to iron on. Iron filings can be bought or made by crumbling up fine steel wool. Here are some ideas for experiments that could use this technique; use your imagination to come up with other ideas. Examine the fields produced by the interaction of two or more magnets. Investigate the strength of magnetic fields at different distances. Build a series of electromagnets with different coil lengths and/or different core materials and investigate the magnetic fields produced by each.

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Science Buddies Staff. "Mapping Magnetic Fields" Science Buddies. Science Buddies, 30 June 2014. Web. 24 Oct. 2014 <http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project_ideas/Elec_p043.shtml>

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Science Buddies Staff. (2014, June 30). Mapping Magnetic Fields. Retrieved October 24, 2014 from http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project_ideas/Elec_p043.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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