PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Breakfast is the first meal of the day. For many, breakfast comes in the form of cereal. There’s a lot of science going on in this bowl that you might not be aware of.
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Let’s take a look at this muesli. I floated some O’s in water because I didn’t want to waste expensive milk. The experiment works the same with water and milk. Then I took a very strong magnet and put it in the bowl. The Os started following the magnet, which means this grain is magnetic!
That’s perfectly fine and safe!
This is not a special muesli at all! While in a different container, these O’s are the same type of cereal we eat all the time. That means it’s still magnetic. Just so you can see that the magnet doesn’t generate electricity, you can also do this experiment by waving the magnet over the grain as well.
So what makes the cereal follow the magnet?
IRON! Many types of grain are enriched with it. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Iron is a mineral and its main purpose is to carry oxygen around the body in the hemoglobin of red blood cells so the cells can produce energy. Iron also helps remove carbon dioxide.
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Iron is also a mineral that is magnetic, even when found in grains. You can see that the granola we used here has 18mg of it. That’s enough for those powerful magnets to pull the O’s.
To complete this experiment, you need to float the grain in a liquid. This reduces friction so the grain is attracted to the magnet. While they’re floating, the magnet can pull on the cereal more easily. Without liquid in the bowl, the magnet’s attraction to the iron in the cereal isn’t enough to overcome the friction on the bowl.
I won’t tell you which grain I used in this experiment as reading the nutritional information is part of the learning experience. Find a granola with the highest iron content on the nutrition label you can find.
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The magnets used are also not your regular fridge magnets. These are “rare earth magnets”, also called neodymium magnets. While they sound expensive, the ones needed for this experiment only cost a few dollars at a hardware store. I want to use a little caution when using these magnets. They are very strong and can pinch when other magnets are attracted so be careful.
https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2022/03/05/hey-ray-your-cereal-may-be-magnetic/ Hello Ray! Your Cereal Can Be Magnetic – CBS Pittsburgh