Seeing Magnetic Field Patterns in 3D

new and old compass
Photo Source: Accent

Have a physics enthusiast in your classroom or home? This neat science fair project from Bill Beaty of Science Hobbyist will actually allow your student to explore magnetic field patterns - in 3D!

Magnetic Fields

Magnetic fields, caused by moving electrically charged particles and inherent in magnets,  are invisible "bands" that predict how magnetized objects will interact with one another and can be used as a guide to determine which direction a compass will point. Always running in a circle, magnetic fields have no discernible end, can be stretched (like a rubber band), and never cross. Additionally, magnetic fields always start at a magnetized object's north pole and end at its south pole.

Project Overview

Students will create a magnetic field viewer from common household and workshop items with which to explore various magnetic field patterns. Beaty suggests holding a bar magnets in various positions for comparison:

Use one magnet. Hold it sideways 1/2" to 1" from the bottle.

bottle and bar magnet side to side

Use one magnet. Hold it up and down 1/2" to 1" from the bottle.

bottle and bar magnet up and down

Use two magnets. Hold them sideways 1/2" to 1" from the bottle. Have like poles directed toward each other.

bottle with bar magnets on both sides same poles

Use two magnets. Hold them sideways 1/2" to 1" from the bottle. Have opposite poles directed toward each other.

bottle and bar magnets on both sides opposite poles

For project instructions, a list of needed materials, a helpful video, and project variations and extensions, be sure to visit Science Hobbyist for the full post!


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