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Plasma Science and Fusion Center

Massachusetts Institute of Technology


k-12 outreach

What is the Mr. Magnet Program?

The MIT Plasma Science and Fusion Center's Mr. Magnet Program is an in-school lecture and demonstration on

Mr. Magnet showing students the properties of lightning using the Van der Graff machine.

the principles of magnetism and electricity. MIT technical supervisor Paul Thomas, known as Mr. Magnet, brings a truck-load of entertaining, educational demonstrations and experiments to the classroom to show students that science is not an inaccessible topic, but a source of fascination and fun.


The program generally runs for one hour, beginning with fundamental concepts, and later applying these new ideas to interesting applications of magnetism. There is a lot of hands-on participation. A highlight of the visit is the largest Van De Graaff generator ever to visit local schools. Students will use the machine to discharge electricity, creating lightning-like displays.


Mr. Magnet is also available to help teachers with science curriculum problems and to consult with students on science questions and projects.

The Audience

This program has been developed as a school assembly program, and can accommodate any size group that can fit in your auditorium, gymnasium or performance space. The program may be presented to students as young as kindergarten. Content and experiments are tailored appropriately. During the program, Mr. Magnet will invite participants to perform some experiments, allowing 20-25 volunteers a hands-on experience with science.

Financial Support

The Mr. Magnet program is sponsored by MIT, but has no direct funding for expenses. There is no set fee for the Mr. Magnet presentation. However, if your budget allows, a suggested donation of $500.00 for the support of the program is most welcome. Mr. Magnet's most important support comes from the students who have expressed a new interest in science.

Staffing and Scheduling

Because the visits to the schools are extracurricular they must be adapted to our busy research schedule. The confirmed date is subject to change due to the demands of research projects, snow, or other unavoidable conditions. If we have to cancel we will make every effort to notify you as soon as possible and to reschedule. The requests for school visits continue to increase and some schools will have to be put on a waiting list. You will be notified when Mr. Magnet can come to your school.

What We Bring to School

We bring a large amount of equipment on wheels, and stairs present an obstacle. We must have rolling access to the presentation area. No stairs, please!! Since we make the presentation to large classes, an auditorium or gym would be appropriate.


Press coverage is important to the program. It helps with future funding and it promotes science education. Please contact your local news media for coverage.


More about the Mr. Magnet Program





77 Massachusetts Avenue, NW16, Cambridge, MA 02139,


massachusetts institute of technology