Magnetic Cereal

Pull a couple of cereal boxes from the shelf and test their iron content with this simple experiment. It's fun to see your breakfast whiz across the surface of milk using a magnet!

  1. Ages: 5 - 8

  2. <30 minutes

  3. A little messy

  4. Grownup needed


Materials you'll need

Step-by-step tutorial

  • Step 1

    Fill a bowl with milk.

    Photo reference of how to complete step 1

  • Step 2

    Sprinkle in a handful of cereal pieces.

    Photo reference of how to complete step 2

  • Step 3

    Bring the magnet close to the cereal (without touching it!) and see if you can start moving the pieces! If there is enough iron in the cereal and your magnets are strong enough, you will be able to move the cereal pieces around the bowl!
    Do certain types of cereal move faster than others when chasing the magnet? You can conduct this experiment many times to see which cereals have a high iron content and which ones don't. 

    Photo reference of how to complete step 3

  • Warning

    Be very careful with these magnets and keep them away from small children! In this experiment, adults should handle the magnets as they can be very dangerous if swallowed or handled improperly.

  • Learn moremagnifying icon graphic

    What's going on?

    This is a simple experiment that demonstrates magnetic attraction, a force that pulls on things from a distance. Magnets, like your neodymium magnet, are made of a special alloy - or mixture - of three types of metal (neodymium, boron, and iron), which allows them to create a magnetic field. This magnetic field pulls on other magnets and metals, like the iron in your cereal (many breakfast cereals have iron added to make them more nutritious). But what’s a magnetic field? People have been asking this question for centuries, but we still don’t really know what a magnetic field is made of. We do know, though, that magnetic fields are invisible - and lots of fun to play around with! Explore some more by creating a solution of crushed up cereal in liquid.

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