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Picture of Magnetic Levitating Pencil

Magnetic levitation or MAGLEV is a method by which an object is suspended in air with the support of magnetic field.The two primary issues involved in magnetic levitation are lifting forces: providing an upward force sufficient to counteract gravity, and stability: ensuring that the system does not spontaneously slide or flip into a configuration where the lift is neutralized.

Grade level: 4 -6

Time: 40 minutes

Objective: In this science project you'll discover how to place magnets so they either attract or repel one another and then use that information to levitate a pencil.

Basic Information:

1. Magnets have two poles - North pole and South pole

2. When two magnets are placed together, LIKE poles repel and UNLIKE poles attract.

3. An invisible magnet field surrounds a magnet.

4. The north pole of a magnet points closely towards the Earth's north pole and the South pole points towards the Earth's south pole, this is because the Earth itself has enough magnetic materials in it to be considered one enormous magnet.

5. You can turn an unmagnetized piece of iron into a magnet by simply running a magnetised object over a few times, this process is called magnetization.

Lesson procedure:

Ask the students the following questions:

1. What is force?

---> A force is a push or pull.

2. What are some different types of forces?

---> Gravity, Air resistance, friction, magnetism etc.

Show the image of levitating pencil and ask:

3. How is it possible that this pencil is floating?

---> Students may respond: magic, string, illusion , magnetism

4.What do you think what are the forces involved to create this levitation?

---> Gravity, Friction, attractive and repulsive forces of magnets

5. Do you think you will be able to levitate the pencil?


Divide the students in 2 or 3 person per group and give the following materials to position the magnets in such a way that it levitates the pencil.

Step 1: Making the Base

  1. Take a styrofoam rectangular sheet slightly bigger than the size of pencil.
  2. Draw the layout as shown in the image
  3. Mark equidistant points from both the ends.
  4. Take a small piece of styrofoam and apply a double sided tape on any two sides of the piece.
  5. Stick the piece on the base sheet at the marked point.
  6. Again take another piece of styrofoam and apply double sided tape on two sides.
  7. Stick the piece on the base as shown in the image.
UkeDog2 months ago
As great as it is simple! (an uncommon combination) Thanks for sharing here!
bee-a-maker (author)  UkeDog2 months ago
Thankyou for appreciating...
This idea is quite old and very cheap...
RichardM10 made it!2 months ago
I made it but used blu-tack rather than styrofoam to hold the magnets. I find blu-tack better as its much easier to shift the position of magnets to get it to levitate. The magnets used had a 11.7mm outer diameter, 7.9 inner diameters and 3mm thick. Bigger magnets with a stronger field would have been better. Total cost £2 for the magnets.
bee-a-maker (author)  RichardM102 months ago
Wow!! Your idea is amazing.. I will try it too. Thanks for sharing.
Jracey2 months ago
I made one for myself and two for the grandkids.
bee-a-maker (author)  Jracey2 months ago
LeftPawn2 months ago
Nice project! One question: what are the nominal dimensions of the magnets?
bee-a-maker (author)  LeftPawn2 months ago
Hi leftpawn, the size of the ring magnets : 0.689 inch outer diameter, 0.296 inch inner diameter and 0.118 inch thickness.
Important :The inner diameter should fit in the pencil. Thankyou.
Bill WW2 months ago
Very nice! Did you mention where you got the magnets? I might have missed it.
bee-a-maker (author)  Bill WW2 months ago
Hi Bill WW. Thankyou for your valuable comment. I have used ferrite ring magnets and that are easily available on amazon. I am from India and I have bought it from a stationary shop.
This is a really great project! I know some 5th graders who would really love to do this during the magnets unit. :) Thanks for sharing.
bee-a-maker (author)  WeTeachThemSTEM2 months ago
Thankyou for your valuable comment