Experiments with magnetic levitation

Floating Paper Clips

Tying a paper clip to a thread and holding it away from a magnet, as shown in the photo, is a way to use magnetism to levitate an object.  Of course, the object needs to be held back.  Try "twanging" the thread to see how much force the magnet is pulling the clip with.  Does this vary as you allow the clip to get closer to the magnet?

This is a way to compare the strengths of magnets you may have around the house:

• First, find either the North or South pole of the magnet and attach it to a metal bracket.
• Next, hold a paper clip, tied to a thread, near the magnet so that the magnet will suspend the clip.
• See how far away from the magnet you can pull the paper clip until it falls away from the magnet.  Use a plastic ruler as a way to measure the distance.

Another experiment would be to see how many paper clips can be hung end-to-end from the magnet.

Does it make a difference if there were a ball bearing on the bottom of the magnet and you hung the paperclips to the ball bearing?