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Question
I am doing a science experiment for my 4th grade Science class.  I wanted to test if the thickness of a liquid affects the strength of a magnet.  For this experiment, I wanted to add something to water to make it thick, so I was thinking about adding flour in different amounts (e.g., 1 tablespoon, 3 tablespoons, 6 tablespoons).  Does this sound like a good idea or would it be more interesting to use different types of liquids instead like water, orange juice, milk?  Thank you for your help.

Answer
Hi Jack,

None of the materials mentioned will be impacted by the magnetic field.  Consider making instead a magnetorheological fluid.  This is a very cool material and it can function as a switch or even in an automotive breaking system.  You will need different weights of oils and fine iron filings.  I would use cooking oil,  3 in one oil and 15 w 30 motor oil.  Of course ask you parents for help.   It would be best to use test tubes,  perhaps you can get three from your teacher or perhaps if you know an older student in highschool they can get the name of a chemistry teacher that can help.  Getting iron filings can be gotten from a chemical supply house.  

The experiment can use different quantities of iron filings.  Start with a small amount and add more in small amounts.  Also consider using a neodymium magnet as the field strength is much stronger than a regular magnet.  

Do you research on this material so that understand how it works.  

I hope this helps.

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Ralph Salier-Hellendag

Expertise

Science Fair Judge for many years and experience with robotics, biology, chemistry, industrial processes, metalurgy and metal forming.

Experience

Science Fair Judge for many years and have helped several students get to state level competition. Most recently 2 of my students received state level awards and one went on to the nationals in Washington DC.

Education/Credentials
BA Archaeology - Anthropology
MA Business Anthropology

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