Science Experiments – Pin Magnets

This week we discovered that steel straight pins:

  1. Have a natural magnetic poles
  2. Can have their poles changed easily by touching them to a permanent magnet.

We first created a “known” pin magnet by touching the South pole of a permanent magnet to the head of the pin. (Sorry, no dancing angels.)

We then verified that the pin was magnetized properly by hanging it from a thread and verifying that it pointed North.

Known pin magnet points north

We then selected 6 more pins and used our “known” pin magnet to determine the poles of the other pins.

Checking the magnetic polarity

Then we verified our first test by using the earth’s magnetic field to verify that they had the same magnetic polarity in the previous step.

Determining the poles of a pin magnet

Finally, we checked that we could change the magnetic polarity of one of our pins with a permanent magnet. We touched the South pole of our permanent magnet to the south pole of one of our pins and verified that the pin magnet’s south pole had now become a north pole.

Pretty cool.  I didn’t realize that a straight pin’s magnetic property could be so easily influenced.


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