Wednesday, March 3, 2010

There's Iron In Our Cereal, or Success At Last!

We finally managed to pull the tiny bits of iron out of our Rice Krispies!

For those of you who are coming in late, and don't know what I'm talking about, you can click back to our last Science Sunday post, when we started out trying, and failing, at an experiment inspired by Vickie Cobb -from her book We Dare You! Hundreds of Fun Science Bets, Challenges, and Experiments You Can Do At Home.

I have to say, we've had pretty poor luck carrying out most of the experiments from the book, which is sad, because they all look like great fun. I was just about to give up on Cobb altogether, when I saw a very similar experiment, for pulling iron out of cereal, in another book from the library.

This time, following Mike O'Hare's instruction, we ground our Rice Krispies in the blender, with hot water. It made for an interestingly repulsive, and foul smelling glop, but even using our strongest magnet, we were not able to pull any iron out of it.

We hypothesised, that perhaps our magnet wasn't strong enough to pull the iron out through the goop. But, after testing the magnet, with a washer, we decided that was not our problem. And, in case you were wondering, we used a magnet wand, that came with our Klutz Exporabook (you can find it at, or possibly for less at Amazon).

Then, we thought maybe we'd left the iron behind in the blender. We tried an alternate method of crushing up the cereal, mixing it with water in a baggie, and then passing the magnet by the bottom of the bag. But, we still didn't see any iron.

Our next thought was, that the problem was with the cereal we were using. We chose Rice Krispies, because it had the highest level of iron per serving, out of all the cereals in our cupboard. My son, being a good Montanan, decided it was some sort of government conspiracy, and there is not iron in cereal at all. I decided to try Fruit Loops.

At first, we returned to the Vikki Cobb method, of crushing the cereal, and putting the magnet right into it. The magnet came out covered in cereal dust, but nothing that looked black, or seemed particularly metallic.

Finally, I decided the to spread the crushed cereal out flat on the paper, and pass the magnet slowly over the top of it - and success! As the magnet passed over the cereal, tiny particles jumped up, and attached to it. It worked equally well for the Rice Krispies, and the Froot Loops.

And, what we discovered, is that the bits of iron are so tiny, we weren't separating them from the cereal, so they appeared to be regular cereal crumbs. However, the nonmetallic crumbs stayed on the paper, while the ones with tiny pieces of iron in them jumped up to our magnet.

It's good to be a homeschooler.


Kez said...

Great perseverance! Well done :)

Natalie PlanetSmarty said...

I am impressed with your perseverance. Aren't you worried that your kids lose taste for Rice Krispies forever? LOL

Valerie @ Inner Child Fun said...

Awesome! Glad you stuck with it!

Unknown said...

ROCK ON MAMMA! This experiment turned out to be more about the scientific method than getting the iron out of the cereal- you are SUCH a good teacher!

Ticia said...

Perseverance pays off! I'm impressed you kept trying and trying.