May At-Home STEAM Activity

One of the best parts of this project is that kids can learn about science while painting.  You can use all metal pieces, or you can mix in some things that the magnet can’t move like glass marbles or small plastic items.  Observe how each of the metal pieces move differently.  Some were too heavy, and some may not move at all.


  • Bar or wand magnet
  • Various metal items like ball bearings, springs & screws, paper clips, broken chains, springs
  • Various non-metal items like marbles
  • Paper
  • Large plastic tray or box
  • Tempera paint/craft paint
  • Cups or palette to dip the metal pieces (egg carton works well)
  • Spoons to get the painted covered pieces into the tray



  1. Place the paint(s) into egg carton or cups.
  2. Cut your paper to fit your tray and on top of tray.
  3. Dip a metal piece in paint and place it into the tray.
  4. Take the magnet wand and move it around underthe plastic tray as this keeps the metal pieces rolling smoothly.
  5. Repeat with several different colors and items.
  6. Observe and take note how the different pieces move mor don’t move.


Magnets are rocks or metals that create an invisible field around themselves. This field attracts other magnets and certain metals. The presence of a magnetic field is why you can cover a metal refrigerator door with magnets. A magnetic field is concentrated around the ends of magnets.

Magnets can either pull toward each other or push away from each other. Grab a few magnets and check this out for yourself!

When magnets pull together or bring something closer, it is called attraction. When magnets push themselves or things away, they repel.


Magnets work through paper, trays, and paint!

Not all metals are magnetic because they do not contain enough or any Iron, cobalt, nickel, etc. Substances that are not attracted by a magnet are called non-magnetic