Magnetic Levitating Pencil




Magnetic levitation or MAGLEV is a method by which an object is suspended in air with the support of magnetic field.The two primary issues involved in magnetic levitation are lifting forces: providing an upward force sufficient to counteract gravity, and stability: ensuring that the system does not spontaneously slide or flip into a configuration where the lift is neutralized.

In the configuration used in my project

Lifting force is provided due to repulsion between back magnets

Stability is due to attraction between front magnets and frictional force at the tip of the pencil.

Grade level: 4 -6

Time: 40 minutes

Summary: Its a fun and learning activity in which students understand the following concept:

  • Magnetic attraction
  • Magnetic Repulsion
  • Magnetic levitation
  • gravitational force
  • Frictional force
  • Balancing

Thus they can also relate this concept with the Maglev train and understand the reason behind its levitation and high speed.

Materials needed:

1. Styrofoam sheet

2. Pencil (1)

3. Ring magnets (10)

4. Double sided tape

5. Popsicle stick (half)

IMPORTANT: Ring magnets are easily available in stationary stores and amazon.

Approx dimension of ring magnet: 0.7 inch outer diameter, 0.3 inch inner diameter and 0.12 inch thickness

Step 1: Making the Base

  1. Take a styrofoam rectangular sheet slightly bigger than the size of pencil.
  2. Draw the layout as shown in the image
  3. Mark equidistant points from both the ends.
  4. Take a small piece of styrofoam and apply a double sided tape on any two sides of the piece.
  5. Stick the piece on the base sheet at the marked point.
  6. Again take another piece of styrofoam and apply double sided tape on two sides.
  7. Stick the piece on the base as shown in the image.

Step 2: Fix Magnets

Total ring magnets required: 10

NOMINAL DIMENSION OF FERRITE RING MAGNET: 0.689 inch outer diameter, 0.296 inch inner diameter and 0.118 inch thickness.

IMPORTANT: The inner diameter should be such that it fits the pencil or pen.

  1. Take two ring magnets (attached together due to attractive force) and place on front part of the base sheet.
  2. Take another pair of ring magnet and place in the neighbourhood such that it repels the first pair of magnets.
  3. Repeat the process for the back magnets.
  4. Place half of the popsicle at the marked layout as shown in the image.

Step 3: Levitating the Pencil

  1. Take one of ring magnet and insert at the bottom of pencil such that it should repel the back magnets on the base. The magnet should be in phase with the base magnets.
  2. Take other ring magnet and insert on the top of pencil such that it should attract the front magnets on the base. The magnet should be slightly back from the base magnets.
  3. Balance the pencil and try to rotate it freely. It will spin for a long time.

Step 4:

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10 Discussions


2 days ago

I made one for myself and two for the grandkids.

1 reply

Question 2 days ago on Step 2

Nice project! One question: what are the nominal dimensions of the magnets?

1 answer

Answer 2 days ago

Hi leftpawn, the size of the ring magnets : 0.689 inch outer diameter, 0.296 inch inner diameter and 0.118 inch thickness.
Important :The inner diameter should fit in the pencil. Thankyou.

Bill WW

2 days ago on Step 4

Very nice! Did you mention where you got the magnets? I might have missed it.

1 reply
bee-a-makerBill WW

Reply 2 days ago

Hi Bill WW. Thankyou for your valuable comment. I have used ferrite ring magnets and that are easily available on amazon. I am from India and I have bought it from a stationary shop.


2 days ago

As great as it is simple! (an uncommon combination) Thanks for sharing here!

1 reply

6 days ago

This is a really great project! I know some 5th graders who would really love to do this during the magnets unit. :) Thanks for sharing.

1 reply