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Picking up Paper Clips

How many paper clips can you pick up with a magnet?

For this magnet experiment, you’ll need:

How This Magnet Experiment Works

Choose a magnet and slowly move it closer to the paper clips. Once you have used the magnet to gather as many paper clips as it can, remove and count the paper clips. Try again with magnets of different sizes and shapes. How many paper clips did the other magnets pick up?

You can also try to pick up the paper clips without touching them with the magnet, by holding the magnet slightly above them. Did you know that magnet strength is not determined by size alone? The materials that a magnet is made from will also determine the magnet’s strength. Could a Neodymium magnet the size of a pencil eraser be stronger than a flexible ferrite magnet the size of a chicken’s egg, or even the size of your hand?

Why This Magnet Experiment Works

The strength of a magnet is determined by both its size and its composition. Neodymium or “rare earth” magnets are very strong and are used in many devices including computers. But however strong Neodymium magnets are, they are also very brittle, which is why other magnets with less strength are more appropriate for use in other products.