Magnet Project - Brio Trains
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Magnet Project

Brio trains

To see how magnets push and pull each other, get out your wooden Brio trains. One end of each car has a positive magnet and the other end has a negative magnet. If you try to match up two positive magnets or two negative magnets, they will push each other apart, but if you match a positive and a negative, they'll pull together, letting the engine pull the freight cars.

Magnets will only pull on things that have iron in them, because only iron atoms will line up to become temporary magnets, attracted to other magnets. Take a magnet (your Brio train will work) and go around the house seeing which things have iron in them. If you try things made of copper or zinc or aluminum, you'll see that they are not magnetic even though they are made of metal.

A compass project with magnets
A project with electromagnets
More about Magnets
The invention of the compass
More about electricity

Bibliography and further reading about magnets and electricity:

Physics
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Professor Carr

Karen Eva Carr, PhD.
Assoc. Professor Emerita, History
Portland State University

Professor Carr holds a B.A. with high honors from Cornell University in classics and archaeology, and her M.A. and PhD. from the University of Michigan in Classical Art and Archaeology. She has excavated in Scotland, Cyprus, Greece, Israel, and Tunisia, and she has been teaching history to university students for a very long time.

Professor Carr's PSU page

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Now that the weather's nice, try some of these outdoor activities! How about bicycle polo, or archery for a Medieval Islam day? Or kite flying or making a compass for a day in Medieval China? How about making a shaduf for a day in Ancient Egypt? Holding an Ancient Greek Olympic Games or a medieval European tournament? Building a Native American wickiup?