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STEM Activities

STEM Activity: Magnetic Fishing

This hands-on STEM activity is a great way for children to practice their design-thinking and creative problem-solving skills!

Materials Needed

  • Blow-up pool or bucket
  • Button magnets
  • Donut magnets
  • Copy paper
  • Craft sticks
  • Masking tape
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Rubber fish
  • Scissors
  • Straws

Preparation (An adult should handle each of the following steps)

  1. Use a pen or other sharp object to remove the mouth of 20 fish.
  2. Place two button magnets inside each fish.
  3. Set up your blow-up pool and organize the crafting materials children will use to create their fishing rods.
  4. Place the fish in the pool. You have the option to add water or other “filler” (e.g. tarp, bubble wrap). If space is limited, you can alternatively place the fish in a bucket.
  5. Place a tape line on the floor about five feet away from the pool. Participants will stand behind this line while trying to catch their fish.  

At-Home Instructions

  1. Begin this activity by having your child sketch out different designs for their fishing rods. Next, have them predict which of their rod designs will help them catch the most fish. Have them explain why they think the design they selected will be the most effective.
  2. Using the provided crafting materials, have your child construct their fishing rod. Make sure that a corresponding magnet is firmly attached to the end of the rod to ensure that your child has the best chance at retrieving a fish.
  3. After your child has tried catching as many fish as they can, give them the opportunity to improve on their fishing rod design. Can they make it stronger or more flexible? Is it possible to catch more than one fish at a time?

Educators: Use this activity in the classroom with these modifications

Turn this activity into an interactive game by color coding the fish inside the pool. Make a grid listing the colors of the fish, and assign different prizes that correspond to each color. For example, blue fish = key chain, yellow fish = pencil, pink fish = candy, green fish = T-shirt. For added value, create a particularly heavy (hard to catch) fish and mark it for a larger prize, such as a gift basket! Be sure to only have one student fish at a time to ensure fairness and an orderly classroom.


While working for the Raytheon Company, National Inventors Hall of Fame® Inductee Percy Spencer discovered a more efficient way to manufacture magnetrons. Not only did this discovery lead to substantial improvements in radar technology, but it also inspired the creation of the first microwave oven, the 750-pound, five-foot-tall “Radarange.” Today, over 200 million microwaves are in use around the world. Over the course of his lifetime, Spencer received 150 patents and was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal by the U.S. Navy for developing radar technology used by the military during World War II.

Looking for more STEM activities?

Discover more fun and educational science activities by reading our blog or by visiting our Camp Invention Facebook page.

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