Natural Magnetism

Two naturally magnetic lodestones have a tug-o-war with some iron filings

There is nothing more fun and exciting than seeing the magical, mystical world of magnetism. And to find it in its natural state is even more fun. So here are some fun ideas on how you can bring this world into your classroom.

Changing the Compass

This is an interesting demonstration as it uses minimum materials and is quite graphic in demonstrating the North and South poles of a natural a rock that is a magnet.

What you need: A compass and a specimen of magnetite or lodestone.

How is works: Simply set the compass on a piece of paper with a North and South drawn. Then let the magnetite or lodestone get close to the West side of the compass. Depending on which side of the lodestone you have close you will draw the North or South pointer of the compass to the lodestone. Voila'. Natural magnetism shown in its most graphic detail. Here is an example:

Here you see a compass with the North side up and the North direction shown on the paper. When one end of the magnetite from the top photograph is placed on the East side, the South end of the compass is attracted. When the magnetite rock is rotated, it attracts the North end. (remember...opposites attract) Proving that this rock is actually a natural magnet that even has its own North and South poles within the rock itself....

The Magnetic Powered Ship

OK....this demonstration is a bit cheezy. But this is a free web site and YourGemologist is on sort of a limited budget. But picture, if you will, that you built a small wooden ship, and put in its hold a nice chunk of magnetite or lodestone. Here is how you could power your ship without oars or motors.



What you need: A fairly good size chunk of magnetite. The one I used here is about 2 inches by 1 inch so it doesn't have to be too big to work. And I used a large round Tupperware bowl, (that's going to be the ocean) a snap tight container (my ship), and a fairly strong magnet.




How it works: You simply put the magnetite inside the snap shut container (this is kind of a cheezy boat...but work with me here) and cast your ship out on the water. Place your magnet on the outside of the ocean and let natural magnetism do its work. By moving the magnet around the outside of your ocean, you can make the ship go anywhere you want it to go. Here is sort of a play by play on how it works on my Tupperware ocean..........

The Voyage of the HMS Lodestone

The HMS Lodestone has traveled across the ocean from one side to the other, now we move the magnet to bring it back home................................

Like I said, you sort of have to use your imagination to get the ship concept. But the fact that magnetism is drawing the vessel across the water is not imagined. Magnetism is what is pulling this boat from horizon to horizon and it can be a fun demonstration for students who want to have some fun while they learn. And if you are talented enough to actually make a small wooden ship with a shallow draft, this demonstration really will work to make built your own Magnetic Powered Ship..


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