# Mystery of the Spinning Can Activity

```Name:
Date:
Class Period:
Mystery of the Spinning Can
Activity
Scenario
While attending a friend’s birthday party, you get to watch a magic show. The magician does a trick where he makes
a can spin without touching it. How does he do it? He performs the “trick” using science! To see how it is done, you
need to get these supplies from your teacher:
Materials needed: Styrofoam meat tray, aluminum cat food can, petri dish lid, cup of water, and neodymium magnet
(cylinder).
Procedure
1.
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3.
Set the petri dish lid in the meat tray and fill it to the brim with water from your cup.
Carefully set the aluminum can into the petri dish lid so that it floats freely.
Hold the magnet near the can, moving it in circles (slowly!) without touching the can.
What happens?
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So, how does the can spin? Aluminum is not attracted to a magnet. Why does it follow the magnet as you twirl the
magnet in circles inside the can? The next activity will lead you to understand what is happening in your “spinning
can”. You need to get these supplies from your teacher:
Materials needed: Cow magnet, wire coil, alligator leads, ammeter, paperclips, AA battery, and AA battery holder.
Procedure
1.
Connect the battery holder to the wire coil using the alligator leads to make a complete circuit. Insert the
battery into the battery holder.
What happens when you bring the coil near a paperclip?
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2.
Make a complete circuit using the wire coil, alligator leads, and ammeter. Move the cow magnet back and
forth through the wire coil.
What happens?
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Magnetism and electricity are related. By moving a magnetic field through a conductor electricity can be generated.
The opposite is also true. By running electricity through a conductor, a magnetic field can be created. This is the
principle that electric motors and electrical generators are based on – electromagnetic induction.
So, how did the can spin? What was happening in the metal of the can when you moved the magnetic field of the
magnet around it?
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```