What Materials are attracted by magnets?

What Materials are attracted by magnets?

Take a wand magnet and go around the house to see what will stick to it or feel like it is attracted to it. Keep a list of the items you tried, and if the attraction was strong, weak, or none. Then try to figure out why.

Try especially different types of metals, for example:
1. iron and steel (nails, screws and nuts)
2. stainless steel (special hardware, some kitchen sinks, most everyday forks and spoons)
3. brass (special screws, kick-plates on front doors)
4. zinc (battery case)
5. copper (old pennies, copper pipes)
6. bronze (marine bell)
7. aluminum (foil)
8. silver (expensive silverware, some jewelry)
9. gold (wedding rings, grandma’s teeth)
10. mercury (thermometer – no need to break the thermometer to do the test)
11. nickel (some coins, US nickels are made of 75% copper!, try Canadian nickels)
12. tungsten (filament in light bulb)
13. magnesium (from a science supply store, used in a ribbon form for burning in air, or from a hardware store that carries magnesium floats for working with concrete)
14. coins from several countries (try Canada, England, China, Japan, Germany)

About the US coins, I know the following:
1. Before 1982, the penny was 95% copper. After that, it was changed to 2.6% copper. It is mostly a zinc alloy with a copper coating.
2. The nickel is 75% copper.
3. The dime, quarter and half dollar is 91.67% copper.
4. The Susan B. Anthony dollar is 87.5% copper.
5. The new gold-colored dollar is 90% copper.

To learn more about some of these metals, check out the pendulum experiment.
Below is a photo showing some of these metals, and a photo showing copper balls. (I got the copper balls from at gift shop in the UP of Michigan, at Big Springs State Park, just north of Manistique.) The cylinder of titanium was from a jet engine exhaust system.

Besides seeing what effect a strong magnet has on different metals, try and find out the effect it has on different minerals. A great source of minerals is found in the shops of most public, natural and science museums and in science shops or nature stores at malls. They usually have a stand with several different types of colorful minerals displayed; often the pieces are highly polished. They come with a small card describing the mineral, and cost about $1 per item.

In particular, try minerals with iron or nickel in them. An interesting science fair project would be to have several types of minerals on display along with a wand magnet. You can see which minerals are strongly attracted to the NdFeB magnet (can be picked up by the magnet), which are slightly attracted to the magnet, and which are not attracted at all. Try to predict what category each would fall into.


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