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Picture of Magnetic Levitating Pencil
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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.

In the configuration used in my project

Lifting force is provided due to repulsion between back magnets

Stability is due to attraction between front magnets and frictional force at the tip of the pencil.

Grade level: 4 -6

Time: 40 minutes

Summary: Its a fun and learning activity in which students understand the following concept:

  • Magnetic attraction
  • Magnetic Repulsion
  • Magnetic levitation
  • gravitational force
  • Frictional force
  • Balancing

Thus they can also relate this concept with the Maglev train and understand the reason behind its levitation and high speed.

Materials needed:

1. Styrofoam sheet

2. Pencil (1)

3. Ring magnets (10)

4. Double sided tape

5. Popsicle stick (half)

IMPORTANT: Ring magnets are easily available in stationary stores and amazon.

Approx dimension of ring magnet: 0.7 inch outer diameter, 0.3 inch inner diameter and 0.12 inch thickness

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.
RichardM10 made it!19 hours 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.
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bee-a-maker (author)  RichardM1010 hours ago
Wow!! Your idea is amazing.. I will try it too. Thanks for sharing.
Jracey2 days ago
I made one for myself and two for the grandkids.
bee-a-maker (author)  Jracey2 days ago
WOW!!!
LeftPawn2 days ago
Nice project! One question: what are the nominal dimensions of the magnets?
bee-a-maker (author)  LeftPawn2 days 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 days ago
Very nice! Did you mention where you got the magnets? I might have missed it.
bee-a-maker (author)  Bill WW2 days 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.
UkeDog3 days ago
As great as it is simple! (an uncommon combination) Thanks for sharing here!
bee-a-maker (author)  UkeDog2 days ago
Thankyou for appreciating...
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)  WeTeachThemSTEM6 days ago
Thankyou for your valuable comment