Does iron-fortified cereal really have iron in it?

Finding a project that third graders can complete independently and actually enjoy can be difficult. Because many children are fascinated by magnets, creating a science project that revolves around magnetism can be the answer. Third graders will love creating artwork out of magnetic fields, demonstrating that breakfast actually has metal (iron) in it, and experimenting with double and triplet magnets.

Seeing Magnetic Field Lines

Place the iron filings inside the salt shaker.

Turn the plate over and tape a bar magnet to the bottom.

Shake the iron fillings carefully over the top surface of the plate. They should form lines; these are the magnetic fields.

Spray adhesive over the plate to keep the fields permanently affixed.

Repeat this process with a new plate and two or more magnets, taped in different formations underneath the plate. Hypothesize what the magnetic fields will look like in each instance.

Fortified Cereal

Pour the iron-fortified cereal and water into the bowl.

Rub the bar magnet in a circular motion on the outside of the bowl, on all sides. Do this for several minutes.

Press the magnet against the bottom of the bowl and slowly move it up along the bowl's side until it reaches above the surface of the water.

Observe the water. You should see small black dots that seem attracted to the magnet. These are bits of iron from the cereal.

Doubling Up Magnets

Tape the graph paper to a flat, upright surface, such as a table.

Tape a magnet to the top of the toy car, and set the car on the left side of the graph paper.

Hold another magnet behind the car, making sure that it is facing the opposing pole from the magnet on top of the car.

Move the magnet closer to the car, very slowly, and write down how many squares away it is on the graph paper when the car begins to move.

Stick two magnets together and repeat the experiment. Write down how close the double magnet needs to get in order to move the car. Was it closer or farther?

Things Needed

  • ['2 T iron filings', 'Empty salt shaker', 'Plastic plate', '4 bar magnets', 'Clear tape', 'Spray adhesive', '1 cup iron-fortified cereal', '1 cup water', 'Cereal bowl', 'Graph paper', 'Toy car with wheels that move easily', 'Pen', 'Paper']


  • Try using different magnets for each of the experiments, such as ring magnets, horseshoe magnets or rare-earth magnets.


  • Wear safety goggles and gloves when handling iron fillings. An adult should spray the adhesive.