Have you ever wanted to see something defy gravity and levitate in midair? It may seem like magic, but with a little scientific knowledge and some basic materials, you can make a pencil levitate right in front of your eyes with the power of magnetic levitation!
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What is Magnetic Levitation?
Magnetic levitation is a technique used to suspend objects in the air using magnetic fields as support. This principle is used in many advanced technologies, including high-speed trains and maglev transportation systems like the Shanghai Maglev Trains.
But magnetic levitation isn’t just for big transportation systems. With a few simple materials and a little bit of scientific knowledge, you can make a pencil levitate right in front of your eyes! It’s a fun and exciting science project that allows you to experience the wonder of defying gravity firsthand. So why not give it a try and see the magic of magnetic levitation for yourself?
MATERIALS TO make magnetic levitation at home
You don’t need fancy equipment to experience the wonder of magnetic levitation – all you need is a few simple materials and some patience.
- 6 Ring Magnets ( buy from Amazon )
- Foam Board or a cardboard box
- Strong Plastic card or strong index card as a stopper
- Pencil or Dowel ( that will fit securely in ring magnets )
How do you make a pencil levitate?
- Start by cutting a large rectangular piece from the foam board. Then, make three parallel cuts, each 5cm wide, at 2cm, 6.5cm, and 12.5cm from one end of the board. Insert the strong plastic stopper card into the first slit at 2cm.
- Next, insert the four magnets in the remaining four slits as shown in the picture below.
- Fit two ring magnets onto the pencil or dowel, ensuring that they are a distance apart from each other. The polarities of these magnets do not matter. To keep the magnets in place, use a rubber band on the pencil, as shown in the picture.
- Check that the magnet near the pencil tip is being attracted to the ring magnets in the center slit.
- Also, make sure that the magnet on the rear end of the pencil is being repelled by the remaining two magnets in the last slit.
- Finally, bring the pencil between the four magnets, with its tip resting on the stopper. This will make the pencil levitate in the air.
- You may need to adjust the placement of the magnets on the pencil so that the forces are balanced, enabling it to hover freely in the air.
- Test to make sure that the pencil is levitating completely.
Isn’t it AMAZING to see the pencil levitate!
How does a magnetic levitation work?
The pencil is subject to multiple forces that interact with each other. On the one hand, there is a magnetic force of attraction acting on the front magnets. And a magnetic force of repulsion acting on the back magnets. Additionally, the stopper provides a force of reaction that counteracts the forward movement of the pencil and keeps it stable. These forces are perfectly balanced in the horizontal direction, maintaining the pencil’s position.
In the vertical direction, the pencil is subject to the gravitational force and the front magnets exert a downward force while the back magnets exert an upward force. It’s the delicate interplay between all of these different forces that allows the pencil to remain stable and levitate in the air without any support.
If you don’t have time to buy all the materials, then this kit has tons of experiments to do with magnets.
- If the pencil falls off the index card, try adjusting the position of the magnets.
- If the magnets are too weak, try using stronger magnets.
- Be careful when handling the magnets, as they are very strong and can cause injury to little hands if not handled properly.
So, there you have it! A simple way to make a magnetic levitation at home. So, with all the amazing things we can learn from magnets, there’s no reason not to get started today!
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