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Invisible Forces    Mystery 4

Levitatingpaperclip

In this Mystery, students will explore the surprising properties of magnets and experiment with an invisible force that acts at a distance.

Beginning Activity: Magnet Discovery
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Activity Prep

Each student will need:

The test items should include some metals that are attracted to magnets, some metals that are not, and some non-metal items. Here are some possibilities.

Metal items that are attracted to magnets: paperclips, staples, nails, washers, binderclips, metal bottle caps, a stainless steel flatware, and anything else made of iron or steel

Metal items that are not attracted to magnets: pennies, quarters, dimes, nickels, the metal band on the end of a pencil, aluminum cans, and anything else made of aluminum, copper, silver, or gold

Non-metal items: anything made of plastic, wood, glass, paper, food

Beginning Exploration (1 of 7)

DISCUSS (1 of 3):

What are some of the things you observed?

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Beginning Exploration (2 of 7)

DISCUSS (2 of 3):

Was there anything that surprised you?

Why did that surprise you?

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Beginning Exploration (3 of 7)

DISCUSS (3 of 3):

What are two or three questions you have about magnets that no one in your class knows the answer to?

Can you think of experiments that would help answer your questions? (Your teacher can also submit questions to Mystery Science. Then we can suggest experiments to help you answer them.)

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Beginning Exploration (4 of 7)
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Beginning Exploration (5 of 7)

Demo: Once a paperclip touches a magnet and becomes a magnet itself, does a paperclip STAY that way? Or does it stop being a magnet?

Try it! (Your teacher can demonstrate this.)

Reveal answer

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Beginning Exploration (6 of 7)
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Beginning Exploration (7 of 7)

Discuss: What do you think you could do with magnets that would be interesting?

There are so many possibilities. Here’s one I like: the magnetic sweeper I used in the parking lot to collect nails and sharp objects so they wouldn’t puncture holes in tires.

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Beginning Complete!

You've completed the Exploration & Activity!

If you have more time, view the assessment, reading and extension activity in the optional extras.

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Optional Extras

Below are ideas for extending this topic beyond the activity & Exploration you just completed.
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Image & Video Credits

Mystery Science respects the intellectual property rights of the owners of visual assets. We make every effort to use images and videos under appropriate licenses from the owner or by reaching out to the owner to get explicit permission. If you are the owner of a visual and believe we are using it without permission, please contact us—we will reply promptly and make things right.

Exploration
globe by Celestia , used under CC BY
sandals by luntblog , used under CC BY
nails by Andrva , used under CC BY-SA
magnet rocks by Roke , used under CC BY-SA
mineral copper by Daniel Stucht , used under CC BY-SA
silver by United States Geological Survey & Mineral Information Institute
iron by Siim Sepp , used under CC BY-SA
paperclip by Brandon Baunach , used under CC BY
powder steel by Aney , used under CC BY-SA
powder steel on magnet by Aney , used under CC BY-SA
silly putty by Childhood 101 , used under CC BY
saftey Ink by Chris Lott , used under CC BY
train by Max Talbot-Minkin , used under CC BY
Activity
horseshoe by Ajcann , used under CC BY-SA
bar magnet by Aney , used under CC BY-SA
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