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We will be sharing a STEM challenge children can do at home here every Friday. Complete the challenge and share your results on social media with @BramptonLibrary #kidsatBL! 

This week’s challenge: 

This week, we will learn how magnets work, and use this knowledge to create a magnetic character that can travel through a maze!

Supplies you will need:

  • A magnet- ask your parents if you can use one from the fridge!
  • Cardboard
  • Paper
  • Markers
  • Tape
  • Scissors
  • A small metal object- something magnetic!

What are magnets? How do they work?

Have you ever made a magnet “jump” from your hand to the fridge?

A magnet is something that attracts certain metals toward it, with an invisible force called magnetism. Not every time of metal will work, but some that do are iron, nickel, and cobalt.

Search around your house for something magnetic, by holding up a fridge magnet to it: if the item is magnetic, it will “jump” toward it! Look for small metal objects, like paperclips. Try to find at least three different things that are magnetic.

Magnets are very useful for holding items together. Your refrigerator is magnetic, and so is your fridge magnet, so you can put a piece of paper between them to hold it up. That’s how we’re going to use our magnets to solve a maze!

Build your maze

Take a bit of time to plan a maze before you draw it on your cardboard- it can be tricky to get it right! Make sure that the maze is solvable and you can reach the end. Try drawing something interesting at the end of your maze- maybe a moon, or a flower?

If you’re stuck on how to design a maze, you can always print out one of our templates!

Create a character

Find your scrap paper, and draw yourself a character to solve the maze. They should be no bigger than 4 or 5 cm long. Not sure what your character should be? Think about the image that you drew in the centre of your maze- what might try to reach it? A rocket ship might try to travel to the moon, or a bee might fly to the flower.

Carefully cut out your character, and use some tape to stick it to your magnetic item- a coin, a paperclip, or whatever else you were able to find.

Solve your maze!

Time to test out your magnets and your maze! Hold the magnet on the back of your cardboard, and place your magnetized character on the front. The magnet should hold the character up through the cardboard!

Try to navigate your character through the maze, using the magnet in the back.

Good luck!

And don’t forget to share your creations with us, @BramptonLibrary #kidsatBL!

How can I find out more about magnets?

Here are some interesting facts about magnets:

  • All magnets have two ends, or poles: the north and the south. The north pole will attract, or pull, the south pole of another magnet. If you try to hold two of the same poles together, they will repel or push each other instead.
  • If you cut a magnet in half, you would get two magnets, and each would have their own north and south poles.
  • The attraction and repulsion are caused by an invisible magnetic field that surrounds the magnet.
  • The Earth has a north and south pole too- and it also has a huge magnetic field around it!
  • You can make a new magnet by taking a piece of magnetic material and rubbing it with a magnet a few times. If you pick up a paperclip with a magnet, another paperclip will attach to the first one- because it’s been magnetized!

Want to learn more? You might enjoy these free resources, from our digital library:

Amaze and Repel Book Cover

Attract and Repel: A Look at Magnets by Jennifer Boothroyd (non-fiction book/eBook, recommended for 8-12 years)

First How Things Work Encyclopedia Cover

First How Things Work Encyclopedia, by DK (non-fiction book/eBook, recommended for 6-12 years)

Fun and Easy Science Projects Book Cover

Fun & Easy Science Projects, Grade 5, by JB Concepts Media (electronic resource, recommended for 11-12 years)

Resources for grown-ups:

Video: Fun with Magnets

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