How a Strategically Placed Magnet Inside a Mirror Makes a Toy Ballerina Spin

Steve Mould, the very amusing science vlogger and author, took apart a children’s toy to see how a strategically placed magnet inside a mirror makes a ballerina automatically spin.

So it’s magnets of course. But how exactly? What’s the mechanism?

Mould noticed that then ballerina was positioned upon a rounded base and the magnet in the mirror was placed at a 45° angle. He then recreated the experiment both as the ballerina and of course with the magnets.

Steve Mould Ballerina

While he looked absolutely adorable in a blue tutu, the real explanation came down to the positioning of the magnets and the need for an unsteady surface.

Lets take the magnets out of the box…lets push them together with our hands at 45°. When we do that, what we’ll feel is two forces. Firstly you’ll feel a repulsion force because you’ve got a north pole and a north pole ….close together and a south pole and a south pole ..close together. They repel each other. But you also feel a second force, a twisting force and that’s because the north pole…and the south pole are attracted to each other.

This experiment can be easily done at home.

Lori Dorn
Lori Dorn

Lori is a Laughing Squid Contributing Editor based in New York City who has been writing blog posts for over a decade. She also enjoys making jewelry, playing guitar, taking photos and mixing craft cocktails.