Objective: To demonstrate how magnets will always orient themselves towards the north and south poles.

Standards: Light, Heat, Electricity, and Magnetism (magnets attract and repel each other and certain kinds of other materials), and Conservation of Energy and Increase in Disorder (kinetic energy, potential energy, energy contained by a field like electromagnetic energy).

Materials: bar magnet and a long piece of cotton string.


(1) Tie one end of the long string around the center of the bar magnet.

(2) Clearly indicate the north and south ends of the magnet.

(3) Tie or tape the other end of the string to a light fixture, closet pole, or other structure where it can swing freely.

(4) Ensure the magnet is properly balanced and does not hang down on one side or the other; adjust if necessary.

(5) Spin the magnet so that it rotates several times and observe what happens.

(6) Repeat procedure if desired.

Science Behind It: The bar magnet will continue to align itself in a similar manner to that of which it began, regardless of how many times it is spun around. The marked poles on the magnet should be in their same starting positions each time the magnet stops rotating. As the magnet hangs freely in this demonstration, it acts like and becomes a compass which aligns itself according to the magnetic field of earth.

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