STEAM Camp: How to Make a Magnetic Field Sensory Bottle


Sometimes it’s the simple activities that are the most mesmerizing.  I whipped up these Magnetic Field Sensory Bottles in just a few minutes, but the whole family can’t stop playing with them.  And the science behind them is pretty cool too.  Magnetic ink floating in water allows you to see the elusive magnetic field of a magnet.
Make a magnetic field sensory bottle for some mesmerizing science fun.  Part 1 of a 5 week Summer STEAM Camp series.

SAFETY NOTE:  Magnets are extremely hazardous if swallowed.  Please keep them and the magnetic ink away from children who still put non-food items in their mouth.  Please use your own experience to decide whether the completed wand and bottle are safe for your child.

Magnetic Sensory Bottle Supplies Needed

For the Bottle:

  • MICR magnetic ink printer refill {affiliate}
  • Travel size mouthwash bottle or other clear plastic bottle with child-proof cap (check the drugstore travel aisle)
  • Water

For the Wand:

Make the Magnetic Field Bottle

Magnetic ink?  Yup.  It’s the ink used for bank checks so that they can be read by machines.  You know the crazy numbers and symbols at the bottom of a check? Those are printed in magnetic ink, most of which contain iron oxide. The process is called MICR for Magnetic Ink Character Recognition.

  1. Empty the mouth wash out of the bottle and rinse well.  Remove the labels. WD-40 is my magic label gunk remover, by the way.

Bottle Supplies LBCB

  1. Next add your ink.  If yours came in a squeeze bottle, give it 2-3 squeezes.  If it didn’t add about a teaspoon of ink.  The stuff is really mess and weirdly sticks to surfaces, so be sure to cover anything you don’t want black.
  2. Fill the bottle all the way with water and seal well.  If you’re worried about your kiddo opening it, you can seal it with a hot glue gun or some duct tape.

Filled Magnetic Bottle LBCB

  1. Shake shake shake the bottle well.  In the beginning, the ink particles will stick together and look clumpy.  The more you shake it or the more you use it, the finer they become.

Make the DIY Magnet Wand

For this project you can use one of those store bought magnet wands {affiliate}, but honestly it’s a lot more fun to use neodymium magnets.  To make them safe for younger kids, you want to securely wrap them into a DIY magnetic wand.

  1. Figure out how many magnets you want to put in your wand.  Ideally use at least 4, but even one makes the bottle fun.
  2. Take your straw and make a small slit in the end just long enough to fit your stack of magnets into the end.
  3. Wrap straw in tape, making sure to cover the end.  I used masking tape, but honestly, the magnets can rip through it, they’re so strong, so I recommend using duct tape.

DIY Magnet Wand LBCB

Now Play!!

This bottle is hypnotizing.  You will not be able to put it down.  It’s as if your hands are now magnetized too and must procrastinate all work and housekeeping in order to see how the magical ink shards move around.  We had to make three of these so that all of us had one to play with in the house!

You can watch it in action!

Side Magnet LBCB

Two Wand Magnetic Bottle LBCB

Summer Learning Made Fun

Summer STEAM Camp

This post is kicking off a 5 week series with some of my favorite bloggers who all love STEAM. Because learning with Science, Technology, Engineering, Art & Math gives kids the power to do almost anything they can dream up. And these projects show that you don’t have to give up summer fun for a little bit of learning.  This week’s topic is all about things you can See.

How to Make a Simple Kaleidoscope for Kids || Little Bins for Little Hands

How to Make a Magnifying Glass for Outdoor Exploration || One Time Through

Number Chart Art || Pink Stripey Socks

Print and Color Tessellation Puzzles || Frugal Fun For Boys

Make a Thaumatrope || What Do We Do All Day

And be sure to follow along for the next four weeks while we Feel, Smell, Taste and Hear STEAM.  Want to be the first to hear how Left Brain Craft Brain Feels STEAM (hint, it involves something stretchy)?  Sign up for our newsletter.


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