Magnet Trampoline

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Introduction: Magnet Trampoline

While sometimes a bit polarizing, magnets enjoy a good party, too.

Whether you're feeling repulsive or like sticking together, the magnet trampoline is a very simple introductory project to teach some of the basics of forces and magnetism. Slap it together, take a bounce, and see what variations you can come up with!

  • What: Magnet Trampoline
  • Where: both the north and south poles, really
  • Concepts: magnetism, forces, gravity, potential energy, springs
  • Time: ~ 5 minutes to make
  • Cost: ~$0.75-$1.25 (and re-usable)
  • Materials:
    • Ceramic Disc Magnets (donut-shaped, like these ones)
    • Wood Dowel (match size of magnet donut hole)
    • Wood block (piece of 2x4 works great)
  • Tools:
    • Drill

Let's bounce!

Step 1: Choose and Cut a Dowel

Let's make a stick!

First up is to find a dowel that works with your magnets. Check the diameter for one where the magnets can slide easily but is otherwise fairly snug. Cut a length of about 8-12".

Step 2: Drill and Place Your Dowel

You know the drill!

Find a drill bit that is the same size as your dowel and drill a hole halfway into a block of wood, keeping the drill positioned as vertically up and down as you can (a drill press works great if you have one). Twist to fit the dowel snugly in.

You are so so close.

Step 3: Tower Time!

Place your magnets on your dowel reversing the orientation of the poles each time. This can be with anywhere between 3 and 12 magnets (or more, too). You want each of them to repel one another and to stay suspended in a springlike state. Check out the interesting variation in spacing between, and give push them down to have them spring back!

Step 4: Noticing and Going Further

The joy in this project is its initial simplicity, but there is much more to do and notice. I am always amazed at what students come up with for exploration questions, but some prompts can include:

  • What happens when you have some magnets that attract? What happens when you add magnets to the chain?
  • What happens if you move that stack of magnets to the middle? Or the bottom?
  • What is the distance between the lowest and the second lowest magnet? What about the second highest and the highest? Can you graph the distances between them all?
  • Try drilling into the block of wood at different angles? What is the spacing like between those magnets? Are they farther apart or closer together than your vertical one? Why do you think that is?
  • Why does a magnet spring up when you hold it down? Can you make it shoot higher?

Let me know your variations in the comments below. Enjoy, repel, stick together, and as always, keep exploring.

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    31 Comments

    Welcome to the future, this is how people will fire HUGE rings into the sky with nuclear warheads (or worse) at cities... Then, in construction, people don't need cranes, just get a fat, tall pole with a bunch of magnets... Then huge magnets again and pile materials on top, then even elevators... BUT! what if... They were electromagnets? you can power the rings to go up and down as you wish! PERFECT for elevators, alright a launching things into the sky, and AMAZING for lifting things up without cranes... Did I forget to say... THICK magnets, a little part of the ring flattened, so cars can just drive on the magnet and then they can cross? Then, of course, you can attach rings to a bunch of cows, then when you wanna herd them, just take out your mother magnet... The future will be cool...

    Think, roads can be curved inwards, like a valley, and it would all be magnetic. Cars would be a box of high tech stuff (carbon fibers?) with magnetic rings for wheels. When parked, the wheels would go flat, and it would not budge, but in the car, when driving, acceleration and steering would just turn the rings in different directions, repelling the car forward or backwards. Then, of course, it would be safer, no pollution, and if a speeding car comes barreling towards you, just go belly flat. The cars will just zip over you... Sorry, no offense, but if you're fat, then sorry R.I.P.

    Cool idea! And lol at the end :p

    I plan to make this later on, but I was just wondering, are the distances between the magnets fibonacci numbers? It is tough to tell on the ruler picture.

    Be nice to see a vid clip instead of the gif.

    I have no idea what I'm supposed to see. IE: Where's the bouncing?

    If you put that GIF in slow motion, like with a recording device, then you can see it bouncing... Or with your bare eyes, you can barely make out it bouncing, cuz its so fast...

    It reminded me of this drawing...

    butter_churn.jpg

    One word: Neodymium.

    If you have a round with hole neodymium and low cost, really is very better result :)