Magic with Magnets

3.7 based on 16 ratings

Updated on Mar 16, 2010


Physical Science


6th-8th grade

Difficulty of Project



$5 per student

Safety Issues


Material Availability

Easy; materials can be easily obtained

Approximate Time Required to Complete the Project (Including analysis and write-up)

1 1/2 hours

What is the project about?

The magnetism experiment is a fun and easy way for students to see the magnetic attraction of two metals in action. The experiment is designed for students to explain the 'magic' behind the experiment.

What are the goals?

The goals of the magnetism experiment are for students to understand the concepts of attraction, repulsion, and magnetic field. In addition, an underlying theme is for students to discover the science behind a 'magic' trick.

What materials are required?
  • Paper clip (one per student)
  • String or transparent fishing string/wire (several inches per student)
  • Medium to large mason jar with lid or similar jar; must have lid (one per student)
  • Magnet (1 per student)
  • White construction paper
  • Tape
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Cotton balls
Where can the materials be found?

The materials can be found at an art store or all-purpose store (such as Target)

  • What is a magnetic field?
  • What is magnetism?
  • What is a magnetic attraction and what is a repulsion?

For the parent/student, what terms and concepts are required to better understand the project?
The concept of magnetism and magnetic attraction are essential.

  1. Begin by cutting a piece of string about 2/3 the length of the jar (from bottom to top).
  2. Tie the paper clip to one end of the string.
  3. With the pencil, draw a small ghost image on the white construction paper (it should be small enough to easily fit inside the jar; it should be about 1 1/2 to 2 times the size of the paperclip).
  4. Cut out the ghost image.
  5. Insert the ghost cut-out into the paperclip (the paperclip should snugly hold the ghost cut-out).
  6. Now tape the free end of the string to the inside of the bottom of the jar.
  7. Cover the inside of the bottom of the jar with one or two fluffed/stretched cotton balls (this should give the appearance of spider webs on the bottom of the jar; for aesthetic purposes only).
  8. Securely tape the cotton down to the bottom of the jar. (The paperclip with ghost attached should lie on top of the cotton.)
  9. Tape the magnet to the inside of the jar lid.
  10. Place the lid on the jar and turn it upside down so that the paper clip with ghost hangs from the string (the ghost should be hanging up-side-down).
  11. Carefully turn the jar right side up. The paper clip will be pulled by the magnet and the ghost will remain upright. It will appear that the paper clip is suspended in the air, and that the ghost is magically floating.

Brooke Greco graduated from UC Berkeley, and has volunteered her time with several after-school learning programs over the last several years. Brooke served as a Citizen's Schools Teacher in Redwood City, CA, where she taught a course on the rain forest. In addition, Brooke served as a teacher at the New Era Galapagos Foundation and taught English and conservation practices to local youth of the Galapagos Islands.

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