Sunday, October 27, 2013

Science Sunday with Daddy!

Today, on a whim, my husband decided to do an experiment with T. It was something he did as a child and always thought was cool.

Did you know that many breakfast cereals are fortified with Iron? You probably did because its often written on the label or mentioned in advertising. Well, did you know that humans usually have enough iron in their bodies to make two small nails? If your kids don't believe you that there is metal in their cereal, let them try this experiment.

We used a Erlenmeyer flask, stir bar and magnetic stirrer for this experiment because we had it on hand. You can use a zip top bag instead but it would be harder to extract it from the bag.

We used Cheerios cereal, but there are many types that contain iron. Check the box to see how much iron it contains, the more it contains, the more you will be able to extract.

A VERY strong magnet is necessary to pull the iron to the side of the container. The magnet we used was from our Crazy Aaron's Thinking Putty in Strange Attractor color. (FYI, this stuff is awesome for fidgety little hands). You can get strong magnets at other places but we had this on hand and the magnet is pretty strong.
Magnetic Thinking Putty

First, Dad put some water into the flask and placed the stir bar inside. Then he turned on the stir plate to make it stir at a medium rate. T added a few handfuls of Cheerios and smashed them a bit with a plastic straw. Then they let it sit and stir for a couple of hours to allow the Cheerios to disintegrate some. If you are using a zip top bag, just mash them up with your hands to mix it together and let it sit for a while.

The water became light brown and then they got out the magnet.

First you must hold it low, next to the liquid to allow the iron to be attracted to the magnet.

Then slowly move the magnet up along the glass, the iron will follow. If you look closely, you can see the iron on the inside of the glass where the magnet is. If you go slowly enough, you can pull it to the top of the container and extract it.

Here is the part of our iron that they were able to extract from the Cheerios. I think if they had smashed the Cheerios up more they would have gotten more iron but they did pretty well.

This picture has the magnet below the paper so it is standing on end.

My husband did this experiment from memory of doing it as a kid. Yes, he thought it was that cool that he remembers it as an adult. I looked around the internet and found wonderful instructions for performing this experiment in a zip top bag here.


  1. That is cool! I am going to have to add this to our list of demonstrations! And your Erlenmeyer flask made me nostalgic! I was just on home science tools pricing this kind of stuff our. I think it really adds to the experience when kids have real lab equipment to work with.

  2. Thanks for commenting. I agree that real lab equipment makes a difference. I will be investing in more as we get into upper elementary when we would use them more.