Dancing Cereal

 

cereal

Can cereal really dance or is there another reason it's moving? Let's find out!

What You Need

  • Box of Total Cereal (very important)
  • Super Strong Magnet
  • Ziploc bag
  • Water
  • Dinner plate

 

What You Do

  1. Open the box of Total cereal and pour a small pile of flakes on the plate. Crush them into tiny pieces with your fingers. Spread out the pile so it forms a single layer of crumbs on the plate. Bring the magnet close to the layer of crumbs (but don’t touch any) and see if you can get any of the pieces to move. If so, that piece may contain some metallic iron (or it could be something else). Take your time.
  2. Firmly press the magnet directly onto the crumbs but don’t move it. Lift it up and look underneath to see if anything is clinging to the magnet. Several little pieces may be stuck there. Is it the magnet, static electricity, or just sticky cereal? Clean off the magnet and scrape the pile of crumbs into the plastic bag from your kit. Set it aside for now.
  3. Pour water into the plate and float a few flakes on the water. Hold the magnet close to (but not touching) a flake, and see if the flake moves toward the magnet. (The movement may be very slight, so be patient.) With practice, you can pull the flakes across the water, spin them, and even link them together in a chain. Hmmm... there must be something that’s responding to the closeness of the magnet.
  4. magnetMeasure 1 cup of Total cereal into a quart size Ziploc bag. Fill the bag at least half full with water. Carefully seal the bag, leaving an air pocket inside. Mix the cereal and the water by squeezing and smooshing the bag until the contents become a brown, soupy mixture. This may take a long time. In fact, you may want to let it sit for an hour so the cereal softens completely. Warm water will speed up the process. Don’t move onto the next step until the cereal is completely dissolved!
  5. Make sure the bag is tightly sealed and lay it on a flat side in the palm of your hand. Place the super-strong magnet on top of the bag. Put your other hand on top of the magnet and flip the whole thing over so the magnet is underneath the bag. Slowly slosh the contents of the bag in a circular motion for 15 or 20 seconds. The idea is to attract any free moving bits of metallic iron in the cereal to the magnet. Use both hands again and flip the bag and magnet over so the magnet is on top. Gently squeeze the bag to lift the magnet a little above the cereal soup. Don’t move the magnet just yet. Look closely at the edges of the magnet where it’s touching the bag. You should be able to see tiny black specks on the inside of the bag around the edges of the magnet.
  6. Keep one end of the magnet touching the bag and draw little circles. As you do, the iron will gather into a bigger clump and be much easier to see. Few people have ever noticed iron in their food, so you can really impress your friends with this one. When you’re finished, simply pour the soup down the drain and rinse the bag.

 

The project above was part of the Cookin' Up Science program.