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Is your science fair coming up, but you’re still not sure what to present for it? Trying to find a last minute idea without breaking the bank can be really frustrating but one simple tool- magnets can give you a few ideas!
This is experiment #1 in a 3 part series of fun, simple, inexpensive projects that will wow your judges at the science fair.
Experiment #1. Magnetic Fields
This simple project will explore how magnetic fields affect the rate at which water flows. This will require water, salt solution, and a few permanent magnets. A good example of an everyday permanent magnet is a refrigerator magnet and these would work well for the experiment. These kinds of magnets can be purchased at most local stores, just try to avoid the flat strip magnets.
This project explores diamagnetism, simply meaning the property of being repelled by both poles of a magnet. Water is the diamagnetic element, meaning that it has permeability or degree of magnetization of less than 1 and it will repel the magnetic force. This will become your hypothesis for the experiment.
HYPOTHESIS: If water repels the magnetic force, then the rate at which water flows will decrease when a magnet is nearby.
PART I: This project can be conducted in a variety of ways, the easiest being to start by measuring (i.e. timing) the flow of 300 milliliters of water through a burette without a magnet (this is the control). You will want to repeat this 3 times and average the results. You would then repeat the same experiment but now with 2 permanent magnets at the bottom of the burette.
Did the water flow faster or slower with the magnets in place? Should you accept or rejection your hypothesis?
PART II: What do you think might happen if salt water is used instead of tap water?
Write your hypothesis:
If salt is dissolved in the water, then the rate at which water flows will (PICK ONE) increase, decrease, or stay the same.
Now repeat the experiment with salt water (i.e. a solution of water and table salt), timing the 300 milliliters of salt water through the burette without a magnet (the control) and then with the two magnets set up just like before.
Record all results in a table and make a bar graph. Then determine if your hypothesis was supported (conclude by accepting the hypothesis) or unsupported (conclude by rejecting the hypothesis).
Other variations to explore:
• How does number of magnetic affect the rate of flow? (compare one, two, three, four magnets)
• How does the distance from the water affect the diamagnetic effect? (i.e. measured as the rate of flow – determine by varying the distance between the magnets and the stream of water)
• How does the temperature of the water affect the diamagnetic effect? (i.e. is the effect measurably larger with hot or cold water?)
This experiment is great because of the low cost and fairly limited time it takes to get the results. Look for 2 more magnet projects coming soon!
Bruce Utsler is a freelance blogger and science enthusiast. He is currently studying to become an X-ray technician. He is an expert with magnets and when he isn’t busy studying or experimenting, Bruce likes to hit the streets with his longboard.
Need magnets or want to learn more about Bruce? see neodymimium magnets