In this activity you will work with a partner to explore magnetic fields.
What You Need
1. Take a Ziploc® bag and place a 3 x 5-inch index card inside. Add about a teaspoon of iron filings. Be careful to keep your magnet away from the filings. They will stick to it and are hard to get off!
2. Lay the plastic bag on a table and shake it gently back and forth. Let your partner try it, too. With a little practice, you can get a thin layer of filings on top of the index card in your bag. The filings should not all be in a lump at one end. Draw what you see below.
3. Carefully lift the bag and set it on a paper clip. Describe what happens and draw it in the space
4. Can you predict what will happen to the iron filings if you place a magnet on the table and set the bag down on top of the magnet? Write your prediction below.
5. Now place the magnet on the table. Then gently pick up the bag and place it on the magnet. What happens? Was your prediction correct? Draw what you see in the space below:
Going Further: If you have some other magnets, you can see what kind of pattern they create. Be sure to try placing the two magnets under the bag. What does the pattern look like when the magnets are placed so that they are attracted to each other? What does the pattern look like when the magnets are placed so that they repel one another? Does the shape of the magnetic field change? Try it!