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Mapping Magnetic Fields

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Areas of Science
Time Required
Short (2-5 days)
*Note: For this science project you will need to develop your own experimental procedure. Use the information in the summary tab as a starting place. If you would like to discuss your ideas or need help troubleshooting, use the Ask An Expert forum. Our Experts won't do the work for you, but they will make suggestions and offer guidance if you come to them with specific questions.

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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.


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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General citation information is provided here. Be sure to check the formatting, including capitalization, for the method you are using and update your citation, as needed.

MLA Style

Science Buddies Staff. "Mapping Magnetic Fields." Science Buddies, 20 Nov. 2020, https://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project-ideas/Elec_p043/electricity-electronics/mapping-magnetic-fields. Accessed 4 Mar. 2024.

APA Style

Science Buddies Staff. (2020, November 20). Mapping Magnetic Fields. Retrieved from https://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project-ideas/Elec_p043/electricity-electronics/mapping-magnetic-fields

Last edit date: 2020-11-20
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