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Magnetism/ Nutrition: Iron Cereal (Shayleen Scantlin)


Shayleen Scantlin

Principle(s) Illustrated

  1. Magnetism is a property of materials that respond at an atomic or subatomic level to an applied magnetic field.  
  2. Ferromagnetismis when substances are attracted to magnets.  
  3. Nutrition are materials necessary (in the form of food) to support life within cells and organisms. Many common health problems can be prevented or alleviated with a healthy diet.


  • Grades 9-12 Health:
    • Nutrition and Physical Activity
      • Standard 1: Essential Concepts:
        • 1.7.N         Describe the benefits of eating a variety of foods high in iron, calcium, and fiber.
        • 3.3.N         Describe how to use nutrition information on food labels to compare products. 
  • Grades 9-12 Biology: 
    • Physiology Standard 9: As a result of the coordinated structures and functions of organ systems, the internal environment of the human body remains relatively stable (homeostatic) despite changes in the outside environment. As a basis for understanding this concept:
      • 9a. Students know how the complementary activity of major body systems provides cells with oxygen and nutrients and removes toxic waste products such as carbon dioxide. 

Grade 4 Physical Sciences

    • 1. Electricity and magnetism are related effects that have many useful applications in everyday life. As a basis for understanding this concept:
      • f. Students know that magnets have two poles (north and south) and that like poles repel each other while unlike poles attract each other.

Questioning Script

Prior knowledge & experience:

Students should know that iron is ferromagnetic and is attracted to magnets. They also should know that magnets have two poles and that unlike poles will attract one another. 

People should also know that food you buy from stores have nutritional facts. Many cereals are fortified with iron.

You can first show students some paper clips and ask them if they think they will be attracted to the magnet. After making their hypothesis you can then let them try this and they will discover they are.

You then can ask students if they think that the cereals they have will be attracted to the magnet and have them give their reasoning. They can test three different kinds of cereal with varying amounts of iron in them. Total has 100% of the daily value of iron and will work the best. 

They need to crunch up the cereals on separate plates and can run a magnet underneath the paper plates. They will notice that total is magnetic and other cereals are not as much. 

They then need to read the nutritional facts to see if they can figure out why Total would be more attracted to the magnets than the other cereals. They will discover that it is the iron content added to the cereals. 

Other ideas and extensions:

You can soak the cereal in water and then blend it. When you put the magnet in the cereal all of the iron pieces will come off. 

Students can make designs on their paper plates such as mazes and can move the iron pieces from the cereal through them by dragging the magnet on the underside. They also can see how much iron they can collect in a certain time frame. 

Root question:

Do you think cereal is magnetic?

Target response:

The iron in the cereal is magnetic do to the fortification of the cereal with the addition of iron. 

Common Misconceptions:

Most people will think that the iron in the cereal is not the same as magnetic iron.  

Photographs and Movies

YouTube Video


Tillery, B. (2005).Physical Science: Physics. Boston: McGraw Hill. 

Mag-nificent Breakfast Cereal (2010, March 30). Science Buddies. Retrieved October 10, 2011 from