Introduction: Magnet Building Sticks

Let's make some (magnetically) attractive structures!

Magnet Building Sticks are great because the options are infinite. You can build, tear apart, create, form, and mess up all in the span of a couple minutes, which makes them a great building tool! I leave them out in my classroom to see what evolves, and the results are just great. Now you can make your own stick-y structures, too!

  • What: Magnet Building Sticks
  • Concepts: magnetism, structure, engineering, geometry
  • Time: ~45 minutes to make (depending on sticks desired), a couple more hours to cure
  • Cost: ~$10 for the set
  • Materials:
    • Neodymium disc magnets (I used 1/4")
    • Dowel (that matches your magnets)
    • Plastidip
    • Disposable cup
  • Tools:
    • Saw
    • Ruler
    • Hot Glue

Stick together now!

Step 1: Stick-a-palooza

Start off with a dowel that is approximately the same diameter as your magnet. Cut a bunch of sticks that are all the same length. If using a bandsaw, you can simply set a guard rail. If cutting by hand, measure them out. I made mine about 3" long each. If you want, you can play with the length too, and even make a couple different sizes.

Step 2: Glue Magnets

Gluing magnets is no easy business, but you can figure it out with a little practice. The important thing here is that we want magnets to be oriented the same way on the stick meaning for any given stick there's a magnet with north up and on the other side there's one with south down. This makes it so all of our sticks can interlock if oriented the right way.

To do this, you have to set your magnets with one in one direction, and flipping the next one. Add some hot glue to the end of a stick, push it on a magnet, and then flip it like a baton and glue on the other. After you do it a few times, you'll get the hang of it I swear. I ended up starting to make long lines of magnets for more mass assembly.

Step 3: Dip Them!

If we stopped at the hot glue step, the magnet sticks don't last too long. While already fun and interlocking, the impacts when they're near each other cause the magnets to become loose and fall off. Here comes....Daaaa...daaa.daaaaa.daaaaaaaa..... PLASTIDIP!

Plastidip is a neat solution used for giving a rubbery feeling to, well, just about everything. Dipping the ends in this is going to be make little pouches to keep all of our magnets in.

Start by pouring some Plastidip into a cup. Dip one dowel in and flip around to dip the other side. When done, lay out to dry for at least an hour. I know, it's hard to wait to play with them! A small tip is that after about 30 minutes of drying, you can take them and press the ends flat on the table to keep there from being blobby shapes at the end.

At the end, you'll have a mass of colorful magnet sticks. You're ready!

Step 4: Go Go Magnet Structures!

Time to go to town. Or make a town really.

Find a piece of steel or something ferrous to work as a great base. Then you can start building away. You'll find that they can make geometric shapes and freeform structures. They also attach in more ways than thou might initially think, so try putting them together in strange ways.

These are great to leave out and see what evolves.

Have fun, play lots, and keep exploring.

Comments

author
jʎɐɹ-ɾ (author)2016-02-26

What a fun looking project! I just ordered a bunch of those magnets to make my own. Stay tuned....

author
ThomasK19 (author)2016-01-27

I still have a bunch of those which were popular some years ago, They came with steel marbles which is good for some nice constructions. I have to get them back from the attic...

author
Yonatan24 (author)ThomasK192016-01-29

Same! I used to plays with those a lot when I was younger...

author
Mr_Kenan (author)2016-01-27

Thanks for sharing the wonderful idea! Can't wait to build this. Same concept could work for DIY "magna-tiles" :)

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Bio: The Oakland Toy Lab is a community-based wonder lab for students to build, tinker, explore, make, break, and learn! We are writing up engaging science ... More »
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