On Earth, there is a giant magnetic field, also called the geomagnetic field, generated from Earth’s core. In this experiment, we will create a smaller version of Earth’s magnetic field to visualize what this looks like! All magnetic material makes a magnetic field. By using smaller magnets, we can create one too!
- A few strong magnets (neodymium magnets, a rare earth metal, are very strong magnets)
- Iron filings
- A clear bottle (can be glass or plastic)
- Adult supervision
- Tape the magnets on opposite sides of the bottle. Make sure the opposite poles are facing each other.
- Pour iron filings into the bottle and then close the cap.
- Rotate the bottle so that iron filings stick to both sides of the bottle where the magnets are.
- Observe how the filings move and distribute.
- Move the bottle to another position and see how the iron filings move with it.
What you see is an outline of a magnetic field.
But remember, the magnetic field is not the only force at play. There is also gravity, which is why when you rotate the bottle, you can see the iron filings move around responding to the change in gravitational force. Learn more about our amazing earth with National Geographic Earth Science Kits!