Our table conversation must have made an impression. The next week my daughter's teacher presented the class with a science experiment - a floating paper clip. She asked the class to form a hypothesis about why the paper clip floats. My daughter answered "no gravity." Well, her hypothesis was incorrect, but I was surprised and pleased that she took something away from our conversation. She was so excited about her school science experiment that she asked if we could repeat it at home. It's a simple experiment to perform and kept the kids occupied for some time.
How does Santa fly through the sky? We really don't know. But, we had fun making a miniature Santa and his reindeer fly. We added a little holiday twist to the floating paper clip experiment by attaching an image of Santa and his reindeer to the paper clip with some tape.
Flying Santa Floating Paper Clip Experiment
Scientific principles and topics:
metals vs. other materials
Paper Santa image (optional)
Tie the paper clip to a piece of string and tape the other end of the string to a table.
Hold the paper clip up. Position the magnet above it so the magnet and paperclip are close, but not touching. Let go of the paper clip. The paper clip should float.
The magnetic force travels through the air, attracting and suspending the metal paper clip so that it floats in mid-air.
This is a nice beginner experiment for helping children understand magnetic fields. Our kids enjoyed making the paper clip float as if by magic and loved making Santa fly. My daughter decided she wanted to make a snowflake dance and drew a snowflake to attach to a paperclip. My son found out that his Thomas the Train engine has magnets on the ends and discovered those magnets were strong enough that he could make the engine hang from the end of the paperclip attached by tape to the counter. We also talked about how magnetic fields can go through materials like paper (demonstrate by hanging a piece of paper on the refrigerator with a magnet). We used ordinary circle shaped magnets for our experiment, but since the kids liked this so much, we're considering buying some stronger, scientific magnets with clearly labeled poles, so that we can conduct more experiments using magnets.
The Magic School Bus - Suspend Metal in Mid-Air!
If you enjoyed this post you can find more Science Sunday experiments involving kids at http://adventuresofmommyness.blogspot.com/ or even join in the weekly meme. Science is Fun!