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Magnetic Cereal

Use a magnet to discover real flakes of iron hiding in your morning breakfast cereal.

Magnetic Cereal Experiment

Materials Checklist

Magnetic Cereal Experiment

Questions and Things to Notice

The metal element iron (Fe) is important not just to Iron Man, but all humans, and for tons of different reasons. We can forge it to make countless useful objects, and, by combining it with carbon (C) to create steel, build anything from airplanes to skyscrapers.

But, as it also turns out, the human body needs iron simply to work properly! Iron is a critical ingredient to a chemical in our blood called hemoglobin, and without it, our blood can't carry oxygen. Dangerously low iron levels in humans leads to a disease called iron deficiency anemia.

To make sure we're getting enough iron, some food manufacturers started adding tiny amounts of extra iron into their products—yes, the the same iron we make cars from! This iron fortification is especially common in breakfast cereals with other added nutrients, such as vitamins and fiber. In this experiment, we're going to take a closer look and figure out if we can see just which breakfast cereals have extra iron added and those that don't.


Procedure

  1. Step 1

    Place a small handful of pieces of cereal into the bowl and add enough water for the cereal to float freely. (Optionally, you can use milk and eat your science experiment after!)

  2. Step 2

    Hold the magnet just above a floating piece of cereal. If there is enough iron in the cereal, it will be attracted to the magnet and just barely move towards it.

  3. Step 3

    Next, mash the soggy cereal in the bowl with the spoon for a few seconds until it turns into a paste. The idea is just to break the cereal down as much as possible—it doesn't have to be perfect!

  4. Step 4

    Now, use the magnet again, touching it to the cereal paste. If you weren't able to already, look closely and see if you can spot any actual specks of iron.


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Materials Checklist