What, exactly, is in that breakfast cereal you’re eating every day? You know it’s fortified with all sorts of vitamins & minerals, but can you prove it?
Yes! You can!
Spangler Science is a website I love for ideas, & the Eating Nails For Breakfast experiment was one we couldn’t pass up in our recent study of magnets. This activity is easy enough for the younger set, but it has the WOW factor that older kids will love too. My husband was even amazed at our results!
You will need to purchase a neodymium magnet. These are rare earth magnets that are extremely strong & not like the average kitchen fridge magnet. I purchased a set of 6 disc magnets from Amazon and I think they were about $6. Be careful, because they will break if you drop one (we learned the hard way!) and they are extremely strong so they must be kept away from computer hardware & little mouths!
For this experiment you will need:
box of Total cereal
quart size zip-lock bag
So, just how much iron is in that bowl of breakfast cereal? The first thing to do is put some water on your plate, & gently float a few cereal flakes on top of the water. Now, hold your magnets above a flake and slowly move the magnet…can you pull the cereal flake around the plate?
You sure can!
Now comes the really interesting part…
Fill your zip-lock bag half full of warm water, & pour in 1 cup of Total cereal. Let it sit for about 15 minutes, then gently shake the bag to make a big watery mush. Don’t move to the next step until all the cereal is dissolved.
Make sure the bag is tightly closed, then place the bag flat on your open palm. Next, place the super strong magnet on top of the bag, then place your hand on top of the magnet. You’ve now made a “sandwich” with your hands on the top & bottom and the bag/magnet in the middle.
Carefully flip the bag over, so that the magnet is now on the bottom, & swirl the bag gently around for about 30 seconds. What you’re trying to do is capture any iron bits that are floating in the mixture.
What do you think will happen? Will there be any actual iron that you can see?
Using both hands, carefully flip the bag back over, leaving the magnet sitting on top of the bag. What do you notice?
Those tiny black flecks are the iron in the cereal! I was absolutely shocked at how much iron bits came out of our 1 cup of cereal flakes. This is an experiment that your whole family will love!
To further explore the concept, you could use different cereals & compare the results. Hint: Total Flakes work the best 🙂
I encourage you to check out the Spangler Science website for other neat ideas!