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Harry Potter Inspired Science Experiment

#HolidayFun: Magical Harry Potter Science Experiment your child will LOVE!

With the June holidays upon us, do you have a kaleidoscope of activities up your sleeves to keep your young ones occupied? Over the period of the June Holidays, we’ll be sharing a few simple Science experiments or challenging Math Problems to inspire your child to learn even beyond the classroom walls, do look forward to it!

Don’t we just love the iconic scene when Hermoine schooled Ron on the pronounciation of the levitation spell? A fun fact about the famous spell “Wingardium Leviosa”: did you know that the word has Latin origins? The phrase simply means “to take flight”.

‘It’s Wing-gar-dium Levi-o-sa, make the “gar” nice and long.’

– Hermoine Granger, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Following a simple science concept, we are going to start on our magical holiday series. In this experiment, your child will get to engineer their own wand which can cause objects to levitate. Wow!

Be sure to stick to the end of the article to immerse in the full magical experience of learning!

 

Wingardium Leviosa: Let’s get movin’ and start the experiment!

wingardium leviosa science experiment levitating wand feather
Pic via @Unsplash

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Things you’ll need for the experiment:

  • Feathers
  • Paperclips
  • A piece of strong magnet
  • Wide stick/ chopstick that you can stick the magnet to (this will be your wand)
  • A block of wood to be used as an anchor
  • A piece of string (10 – 15 cm, you may need a longer piece if your anchor is larger)

Pro-Tip: Before you start, remember to test whether your magnet is strong enough to attract the paperclips.

Here we go:

1. Stick the magnet onto your stick. The wand is ready!

2. Tie the paperclip using the string. When you are done, clip the feather onto the paperclip.

3. Secure the other end of the string and anchor it unto the piece of wood.

4. Give your wand a flick, say Wingardium Leviosa and watch your feather levitate.

CONGRATS, aspiring wizard! You’ve just performed your first levitating magic trick!

 

The science behind Wingardium Leviosa

wingardium leviosa magnetism science levitating feather
Pic via @Unsplash

So how does the feather levitate? This Science experiment hinge on the simple concept of magnetism.

Read also: Download our magnet facts resource sheet here!

The piece of magnet creates a magnetic field around it, which is an invisible force of attraction or repulsion depending on the materials it interacts with.

The paper clips are usually made of steel wire. Being a “soft iron, and they can undergo temporary magnetization and act like temporary magnets. If you were to remove the magnet, the paper clip will return to an ordinary steel.

When exposed to the magnetic field, the paperclip will re-align its atoms, and which is why both ends of a magnet can attract a paperclip.

can you magnetise metal psle science
Pic via @MammothMemory

 

can you magnetise metal
Pic via @MammothMemory

 

can you magnetise metal psle science
Pic via @MammothMemory

Your feather can levitate as the magnet on the wand will attract the paperclip (which is attached to the feather). The block of wood and string will act like an anchor to secure the feather so that it can only move within the stipulated area of space.

Other methods to magnetise an iron object

A word of caution, Parents. Keep your child under close supervision while carrying out these experiments.

1. Rubbing the Metal with a Strong Magnet

 

single rubbing to magnetise a metal
Pic via @IGCSEPhysics

All you need is a magnet and a piece of metal with iron content. Repeatedly use one end of the magnet to rub the metal in one direction. As you rub, the iron atoms will align in one direction. The piece of metal will become a magnet and can attract other pieces of metal too!

If the metal does not become a magnet despite rubbing for some time, your metal may not have enough iron content to be magnetized.

Repeat the magnetization process if necessary. The metal will lose its magnetization over time and need to be re-magnetized.

2. Using electricity to create an electromagnet

creating a simple electromagnet magnetisation
Pic via @HVRMagnet

The other method would be to harness the power of electricity to induce magnetism, creating an electromagnet. This experiment is slightly more complex. Begin by coiling a piece of wire around the piece of metal – you can replace the iron nail with a piece of metal bar (with known iron content). Tightly wrap the wire around the metal a few dozen times. The more coils it has, the stronger your magnet will be. Connect the two dangling ends of the wire to opposite side of the battery (+ & – terminals). Make sure the bare end of the wire is touching the positive or negative terminal of the battery and secure it in place.

An electrical current will be generated, causing iron atoms to align, and creating a magnetic field around the metal piece. Tap the metal against other piece of metal to see if your electromagnet experiment is successful.

The moment that the battery is removed, most “soft iron” will lose its magnetism.

 

Isn’t science cool? By the end of this experiment, your child would have successfully learnt a levitating magic spell. Additionally, they would also have learnt a concept or two about magnets. The key is to continue to engage your child to learn! You never know what will pique their interest along the way.