Introduction: Magnet Trampoline

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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!

Picture of 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

Picture of 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.


BrianM172 (author)2016-02-24

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...

BrianM172 (author)BrianM1722016-02-24

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.

RedKing9132 (author)BrianM1722016-05-07

Cool idea! And lol at the end :p

corilee02 (author)2016-04-19

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.

Culver City Locksmith (author)2016-02-25

wow is the best

ILykMakin (author)2016-02-23

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?

BrianM172 (author)ILykMakin2016-02-24

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...

Mark 42 (author)ILykMakin2016-02-24

It reminded me of this drawing...

Mark 42 (author)2016-02-23

One word: Neodymium.

Autonamus (author)Mark 422016-02-23

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

Mark 42 (author)Autonamus2016-02-23

eBay. Most have a countersunk hole, but plain ones are available if you search through them...

Autonamus (author)Mark 422016-02-23

It's a option but for example, I live in Brazil, and the cost this magnet is about $5 if I buy 10 pcs, I pay $50, when come to my country about 1 week, I just receive about 2 or 3 moth, ok... but I need to pay a importation transaction, 60% + about $4 fixed to local mail... (If it free shipping) = 50 + 30 + 4= $84 = about R$ 361,2 , local money, about 1/3 of a moth of work 8 hour for day, save weekend and holidays, Its ok for some people but don't is a creative and low cost solution. To make this specific recreation job in my simple option, but is the better result in this experiment. PS: The link of the seller don't send to my country :/ Thanks and sorry my English I will study more to otimize the communication :)

Autonamus (author)2016-02-20

Cool, I made a similar with larger magnets, removed microwave magnetron ... :)

EileenD1 (author)Autonamus2016-02-23


Autonamus (author)EileenD12016-02-23

It's really cool. we immediately think of something growing as a car maybe one day, but if someone is thinking of doing the experiment as did using large magnets removed from old microwave magnetron, please before just google the care that you have to have to make that withdrawal of the magnets if you do not feel safe, ask ara someone who has experience in the subject, open a microwave is no joke, there is more risk of a single shock to the risk of death (even if he unplugged) he turned in outlet has the high voltage transformer> = 2000 volts, certain death, he turned off a capacitor stores a lethal charge for some time, it needs to be descarrefado because all this connected with the magnetron (which spin the magnets), and finally and not least, when you remove magnetro beware of ceramics parts, a cylinder at the center as the core dere consists of beryllium oxide, if you inhale, may have breathing problems all his life that will not be too long. You only need to follow the right steps, I'm not saying that plows through fear but as a moral obligation for posting on the magnets, can arouse interest in doing the same in someone unaware. but it goes from everything right and work well, just search on google the care and proper procedure. Thank you for your attention and good inventions.

EileenD1 (author)Autonamus2016-02-23

thanks! good information!

Autonamus (author)EileenD12016-02-23

Sometimes We like to make things and then make some projects and share, or give a simple suggestion, It's important give a retrospective about your suggestion, because some things are simple and casual for me or for other people, but we can't forget. The internet and users have a big variation of age, study, know-how, like every people, when a subject is changed. I remember this and write about my past commentary. Thanks .

cts_casemod (author)Autonamus2016-02-23

You know that the microwave capacitors used on the voltage doubler have built in bleeder resistors? Always better to check but in most cases these should be discharged in a few minutes

Autonamus (author)cts_casemod2016-02-23

~10MoHms but sometimes the resistor have a problem or the inventor is very fast unmount the microwave and touch in every parts. But you are correct in your observatio. :)

Yonatan24 (author)Autonamus2016-02-21

I have a couple magnetron magnets too, I'll have to make one too... :)

RafaelF36 (author)Yonatan242016-02-21

It's cool. You can make different. If you have four magnets try put 3 in the base join. And just one in reverse polarity. The magnetic camp is add i group. You will have more strong repulsive power in the experiment. Bye.

Minecrafter4435 (author)2016-02-23

Where can you get the magnets?

Walmart in the craft section should have them. Most craft stores should too. They are just standard ring magnets. Of course you can get them online as well. I used to get them back in the late 1980's before the internet was around.

Thnx!!! I Will have to check that out!!!

billie.nenninger (author)2016-02-23

Looks like a fun project, I think I will show this to my grandson. Looks like something he would enjoy!

Akinventor (author)2016-02-19

I used to do this with a pencil!

MrEunderhill. (author)Akinventor2016-02-23

So did I back in 1988. I was in high school. I would use a knife to whittle out a portion of the top end of the pencil near the eraser. Then put on three of these magnets with like poles facing each other to get the end magnets to repel the middle one. The kids at school thought it was cool, however it was not very practical. The magnets made the pencil too top heavy.

ffabrizi (author)2016-02-23

wow! really cool!

Livie83 (author)2016-02-21

That's so cool

mlibre (author)2016-02-19

nice :)

onion2 (author)2016-02-19

so funny, thanks ;D

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