Grade Range
9th-12th
Group Size
3
Total Time
30 minutes
Area of Science
Materials Science
Key Concepts
nanotechnology, ferrofluids, magnetism, colloid
Credits
TeachEngineering logo

Overview

In this fun, engaging activity, students are introduced to a unique type of fluid "ferrofluids" whose shape can be influenced by magnetic fields! Students act as materials engineers and create their own ferrofluids. They are challenged to make magnetic ink out of ferrofluids and test their creations to see if they work. Concurrently, they learn more about magnetism, surfactants and nanotechnology. As they observe fluid properties as a standalone-fluid and under an imposed magnetic field, they come to understand the components of ferrofluids and their functionality.

Engineering Connection

Around since the 1960s, ferrofluids have been used as audio speaker coolants and high-end engineering seals. Dynamic rotary shaft seals are an example of high-end sealing technologies that are typically implemented by mechanical engineers in an industrial plant setting. Recently, this technology has been a topic of research involving nanoparticle suspensions and engineering design so they have greater magnetic properties under moderate magnetic fields. Materials engineers have developed new nanomaterials for medical applications targeted towards localized drug delivery systems by induced magnetic fields. Materials engineers use basic chemistry and physics fundamentals as well as newly acquired nanoscience concepts to introduce particles small enough to transport through capillary systems and organs and have sufficient magnetization. Additionally, materials and biochemical engineers design biocompatible and biodegradable organic coatings that reduce toxicity levels and biochemical reactions that may occur with magnetic nanomaterials inside human or animal bodies. Most importantly, the fluid must behave like a fluid until a magnetic field is applied.

NGSS Alignment

This lesson helps students prepare for these Next Generation Science Standards Performance Expectations:
  • HS-PS2-6.. Communicate scientific and technical information about why the molecular-level structure is important in the functioning of designed materials.
This lesson focuses on these aspects of NGSS Three Dimensional Learning:

Science & Engineering Practices Disciplinary Core Ideas Crosscutting Concepts
Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information. Communicate scientific and technical information (e.g. about the process of development and the design and performance of a proposed process or system) in multiple formats (including orally, graphically, textually, and mathematically).
PS2.B: Types of Interactions. Attraction and repulsion between electric charges at the atomic scale explain the structure, properties, and transformations of matter, as well as the contact forces between material objects.
Structure and Function. Investigating or designing new systems or structures requires a detailed examination of the properties of different materials, the structures of different components, and connections of components to reveal its function and/or solve a problem.

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Grade Range
9th-12th
Group Size
3
Total Time
30 minutes
Area of Science
Materials Science
Key Concepts
nanotechnology, ferrofluids, magnetism, colloid
Credits
TeachEngineering logo
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