Classroom Activity for 11-14
What the Activity is for
The purpose of this activity is to get pupils thinking and talking about the nature of gravitational and magnetic forces.
What to Prepare
- Some metal paperclips, a piece of Blu-Tak or plasticine
- A strong magnet (You will need a very strong magnet for a string of paperclips.)
- A wooden stand and clamp, if available
What Happens During this Activity
This might be a demonstration accompanied by a gather-round discussion. With enough magnets it is an interesting challenge for pupils.
A string of paperclips is hung from a clamp-stand so that the lowest clip is just not in contact with the bench. A gap of about 1 centimetre remains. Next to this is a magnet held in place by a clamp. From the table a string of paperclips rises, attracted to the magnet and attached to the bench by Blu-Tak. Again there is a gap of about 1 centimetre between the top clip and the magnet.
This sets the scene for a discussion about the forces acting on the paperclips. The force acting in each case is a non-contact force. A sheet of paper can be passed carefully through the gaps and the paperclips remain in place. Hence both magnetic and gravity forces act through paper.