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I'm doing a science fair project on magnetic reversals and their effects on animals . Is there a simple experiment that I can do to represent that?
Question Date: 2007-03-26
Answer 1:

I have heard that many animals can detect the magnetic field of the earth and use this to find their way when they are migrating. The zoologist Wolfgang Wiltschko has done a lot of work learning about this.

You've probably learned about the senses in school: vision, sense of hearing, sense of touch, sense of smell, sense of taste. But if animals can detect the magnetic field of the Earth that means that they have another sense: a sense of magnetic fields!

Maybe the animals only use this when they are traveling long distances, so it might be difficult to watch this happening. But maybe they would react to a small nearby magnet. I don't know, and it's an experiment you could do.

You could set up bird feeders, some with magnets and some without.Then you would count how many birds come to eat at that bird feeder.Do they prefer feeders with magnets? Do they prefer feeders without magnets? Maybe they don't care about magnets, and the kind of food matters more, or the amount of sun or shade matters more. You can investigate this.

You will need to figure out how to run this experiment. Do you want to watch the feeders for a certain time period each day? Would it be easy to videotape the feeders?

Remember to use a control in your experiment!
Good luck!

Answer 2:

Not in particular that I can think of.Unless you have an animal that you believe uses the magnetic fields of the earth (i.e. dolphin, salmon, and some birds). Even if you do, it would be hard for yourself to test their migration pattern (which is what I believe they use the magnetic field of the earth for). It might be infeasible for someone in 6th grade to try and conduct this experiment quickly (it would probably take years to collect data). I would suggest finding other people's research or trying something that's a little easier to do in a short time span.

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