A Science Project on What Makes Magnets Repel

The magnetic fields of this magnet are seen in the pattern of metal shavings.
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Though some science projects can be quite elaborate and intensive, a simple project for elementary school students involves explaining the science behind magnetic repulsion. This type of project does not require the time involved for creating a series of experiments based on a hypothesis; it can be completed over a weekend if necessary. Science projects for what makes magnets repel require both visual tools to explain magnetism and simple experiments to demonstrate basic principles.

Main Display

An effective method to introduce a science project is with a display that illustrates the main points of what makes magnets repel. You can use one or more project boards made from cardboard and paper or purchased from a grocery or office supply store. The display can include illustrations, pasted images or actual secured magnets to illustrate specific points of what causes the attraction and repulsion of magnets.

Magnet Types

The three types of magnets that could be included in the science project are permanent, temporary and electromagnets. Magnetite is a natural magnetic material found in nature with magnetic properties, though it is a weak form of magnetism. Magnets can be manufactured from metal alloys such as steel. The primary metals that are combined include iron, cobalt or nickel. An electromagnet is made by passing an electrical current through a metal alloy and is the strongest type of magnet.

Simple Explanation

You will need to explain the main focus of the science project, which is the cause of magnetic forces and how those forces attract and repel each other. Essentially, all matter is made of atoms and is able to stay intact due to the electrostatic attraction of electrons to the nucleus. Protons have a positive electrical charge while electrons have a negative charge.

Magnetic Poles

Magnets, like the Earth, have two different poles that have either a positive or negative charge. The electrostatic is the source of magnets attracting or repelling other magnets. Two like forces such as the positive ends of two different magnets will pull the magnets together. Turning one magnet around will cause the negative pole of one magnet to repel the positive pole of the other magnet. This is a force that you can easily feel when you attempt to push the magnets together, especially with strong magnets. It is at the poles where a magnet is its strongest, but that force is limited to how physically close magnets are to one another.

Magnetic Spring

A magnetic spring experiment will demonstrate that the repelling force between magnets is stronger than the force of gravity. A series of doughnut-shaped magnets slipped over a dowel attached to a simple base keeps magnets aligned so that as each repels the next, the magnets appear to float in mid-air. The bottom cut from a soda bottle and reset as a bowl inside the bottle can be slipped over the dowel to rest on the top magnet. You can add small objects of varying weight to the bottle bowl in an effort to compress the repulsion space between the floating magnets.

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