Magnets are simple yet can be so endlessly fascinating. For little kids, there’s a kind of magic in the way poles attract and repel, and for adult scientists, of course, magnetic forces drive some of the most important technology of the 21st century. You can explore the "magic" and power behind magnets with your kindergartener by setting up your own magnet races. Get ready to hold a magnet marathon!
What You Do:
- Create the race track. Cut off the top of the box, leaving the bottom and four sides. Cut out a rectangle in each long side of the box, approximately 4 to 5 inches from each edge. These rectangles will be the cutaway sections where the players will insert their rulers to move the paper clips.
- Use the poster board to cut out two 2-inch wide strips. Make each strip 2 inches longer than the length of the box. Tape the paper strips lengthwise over the top of the box, spacing them several inches apart. These will be the race tracks for the marathon.
- With a marker, make an "X" at one end of each race track. This will be the starting gate. Make an "O" at the other end of each track. This will be the finishing line.
- Secure a magnet at one end of each ruler with glue or a small ball of clay.
- Place a paper clip on each "X".
- Have each player insert his ruler into the cutaway section of the box. Each player should be holding the ruler so that the magnet is underneath the paper clip on the track.
- The object of the game is to move the paper clip to the other end of the track without touching the track with the magnet. If the magnet touches the track or the paperclip falls off the track, the player must return the paper clip to the starting gate and try again.
- The first player to get his paper clip to the "finishing line" is the winner!
Variation: Instead of paper clips, try racing other small objects to see how well or how poorly magnets attract and move different types of items.
Victoria Hoffman, M.A. Teaching and Leadership, is an elementary school teacher, writer and mother from Leonardtown, Maryland. She has taught grades K-5 in both regular and special education classrooms.