Impress young scientists with this simple experiment to extract the iron (yes, real iron filings) out of a fortified breakfast cereal such as Total!
Aidan has been studying the nutrients our bodies need in his science book – Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology from Apologia. Iron is a necessary mineral as it is part of hemoglobin – the substance in red blood cells that carries oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. Iron is found naturally in meat, fish, spinach, beans, and other foods. It is also added to many foods (although not necessarily in a form that the body can absorb very well) and found in vitamins. Too much iron can actually be deadly, however, so vitamins should not be left where kids can help themselves to them.
It’s easy to see for yourself that cereal really does have iron in it!
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For this experiment, you will need:
- Cereal with added iron, such as Total
- A strong magnet (We used our neodymium magnets that we used for our magnetic slime, but it it not necessary to use this strong of a magnet. I have done this experiment with groups of school kids using some rectangular magnets that I purchased at a local teacher’s supply store. I will say that the stronger the magnet, the better the results will be.)
- A glass
- A craft stick
- A plastic baggie
Step 1: Fill a glass with warm water and cereal. Let it sit several minutes until it is good and soggy. Yes, it will be kind of gross.
Step 2: Make a “magnet stirrer” by attaching your magnet to a craft stick with tape. We covered our magnet with a plastic baggie to make clean-up easier.
Step 3: Stir your cereal sludge with the magnet for a minute or two.
Step 4: Rinse off the magnet – the iron won’t rinse off, and it’s much easier to see with the cereal sludge gone.
And there you have it – iron!! (The black on the outside of the baggie.)
Our magnets were so strong that we also had iron on the back of the craft stick:
For more fun with magnets, be sure to check out our magnetic slime!
P.S. I seriously doubt that our bodies absorb very much of this added iron! If you’re looking for a good natural iron supplement that won’t bother your digestive tract, I really like Floradix liquid iron + herbs. Okay, I don’t “like” the taste all that much, but mixed in a little juice it’s not too bad, and I can tell that I feel better quickly on it if I’m low on iron!
Melissa Mar 20, 2014
Very cool experiment! I never would've guessed you could do this!
Jenny @ The Brick Castle Apr 18, 2014
That's fantastic. I had this post bookmarked to come back to because I thought it would require time and attention because it'd be complex. How incredibly wrong I was! :D
Francesca Morgan Feb 13, 2019
Do you have to use so many of the neodymium magnets? Or would one be enough?
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