Experiments with Magnets for Kids

Instructor: Shelby Golden
Use these experiments to help kids have fun while learning more about magnetic fields and forces. You'll find step-by-step directions in addition to lessons that can get students interested in studying this physics topic.

Picking Up with Magnets

You can use this easy experiment to help younger kids understand magnetic fields.


  • Several sheets of paper
  • Paper clips
  • String or thread
  • Scissors
  • Magnets (stronger is better for this experiment)


First, kids will need to construct some small kites by cutting out 3-inch squares of paper. Have them hook a paper clip to one corner of their kite and tape an 8 in. length of thread to an opposite corner. After they tape the other end of the thread to the table, ask them to lift the paper clip with a magnet and stretch out the string. Now they should carefully pull away the magnet. If this experiment worked properly, the kite should fly even if the magnet is no longer touching the paper clip!

This experiment shows kids that the magnetic field from a magnet can affect objects even without physically touching them. Your students can find out more about this subject with these lessons on magnets and magnetic fields.

Effects of Magnetic Fields

This experiment helps students see firsthand how magnetic fields can create electric current.


  • A disk magnet (your magnet needs to have a diameter of about 1/2 in. and be at least a 1/2 in. thick)
  • 3 ft. long, thick-walled brass or aluminum tube (the magnet and pencil need to be able to fit down the tube)
  • 3 ft. PVC tube
  • Pencil


Students can work in pairs or groups to observe how long it takes for each object to fall through the different tubes. Have students start by working with the brass tube. One student can hold the tube upright while another student drops the magnet through first, then the pencil. The pencil should fall much more quickly. Finally, have them drop both the magnet and the pencil through the PVC tube. This time the pencil and magnet fall at the same rate!

Your students are getting to see magnetic fields at work! The falling magnet changes the metal tube's magnetic field, inducing a form of electric current that pushes back against the magnet and slows its decent.

Help your students further explore the relationship between magnetic fields, electric current and conductors with this lesson on how magnetic fields are created.

Magnetic Force in a Bottle

Your students can complete this experiment to see the lines of a magnetic field and learn about magnetic poles.


  • Plastic soda bottles (16 oz. size, empty and with labels peeled off)
  • Iron filings
  • Plastic test tubes (make sure these tubes will fit in the bottle; they should be almost as tall as the bottles)
  • Masking tape
  • Button magnets (stacked together)


Divide the supplies among your students. Have them fill 20% of their bottles with the filings. Next, they should wrap tape around the open end of the test tube to ensure it will fit tightly in the bottle's mouth. After sliding the test tube into the soda bottle, they should place the magnets in the tube and cap the bottle. Construction is finished! Now they get to use their creation.

Have your students lay the bottle down and roll it. The filings should create a pattern around the magnet. These are the lines of force created by the magnetic field! Use this lesson on magnetic force to review the causes of magnetism and help your students explain the shapes formed by the iron filings.

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