Magnet Levitation

Make a Magnetic Levitating Train

Introduction: In magnets like poles repel. In other words N poles repel N poles and S poles repel S poles. The abilities of magnets to repel each other has provided the idea of making levitating trains. Levitating trains do not make a loud noise as regular trains do. They can also travel faster due to lower friction between the train and the rails. 

Magnetic trains do not need wheels. They just need a magnetic rail on the ground and a like magnetic rail on the train cars.


To construct a model of magnetic levitating train you will need the following materials.

Included in your kit:
  • 2 long hi-force Magnetic Strips (for the rails)
  • 2 short hi-force Magnetic Strips (for the car)
  • 2 plastic Guide Rails
  • Wood Block 5" x 1 1/2" x 3/4" for the car

Additional materials you need:

  • Wood board or heavy cardboard 3" x 28" or larger. This will be the ground for your train.
  • Clear adhesive tape
  • Foam board or construction paper for making a decorative train
  • Wood glue or Elmer glue to connect the foam parts (optional)
  • A ruler stick
  • Pencil
  • This instruction page

Procedure Quick Reference:

  1. Peal the plastic film from the back of 5" long magnet strips and connect them on one side of the 5" x 1 1/2" wood block. This will be the train car. As you see in the picture in the right, the strips are aligned to the edges of the wood block and are 1/2" apart.
  2. Peal the plastic film from the back of 24" long magnetic strips and mount them parallel to each other, exactly 1/2" apart, on a long wooden board or rigid card board.
  3. Mount the clear plastic angles on the sides of the long magnetic strips to form a protective wall so the levitating car will not move off rail. There must be a very small gap between the car and the walls so the car can move freely.
In this method the angle brackets are installed towards outside. In other words the horizontal surface of the brackets are away from the rails. This methods allows you to adjust the position of side rails later. The angle brackets can be secured using masking tape, clear adhesive tape, or small screws.

Another method described in the detail procedure below is suggesting the brackets to be mounted towards inside. You choose which method you want to use.

Procedure Details:

  1. Draw 2 parallel lines 24" long and 1/4" apart as the guideline for mounting plastic rails (angle brackets). Number these lines as line 1 and line 2.
  2. draw 2 more parallel lines 1/8" outside the first two lines. These 2 new lines will be used as the guideline for the magnet strips. We name these new lines , line A and line B.
  3. Place one of the angle brackets on the board and align its edge to the line number 1. At this time the flat section of the angle bracket will cover the line A and the wall section of that will stay on the left of line A. Use tape to secure it at this position. 
  4. Place the other plastic angle bracket on the board and align its edge to the line number 2. At this time the flat section of the angle bracket will cover the line B and the wall section of that will stay on the right of line B. Use tape to secure it at that position.
  1. Place your train car between the rails and make sure that it can move freely and the space between the walls and train is as small as possible.
  1. Peal the plastic film from the back of 24" long magnetic strips and mount them on the flat section of angle brackets. One must be aligned to line A and the other must be aligned to line B. In this way two magnetic strips will be exactly 1/2" apart.
  1. Place the rail board on a flat horizontal surface and then place the train car over the rail. It must float and the side brackets must protect it so it does not go off road.

Further adjustments and alignments:

If the magnets are very strong you may need to make your train heavier by adding weights or loads. You may also use the super strong neodymium magnet to modify the strength of your plastic magnet strips. Please be cautious in doing this because imbalance in the strength of magnet strips can potentially disable your train. 

To increase the strength of plastic magnet, place the neodymium magnet on the magnet strip so that it will be attracted, then rub the magnet all over the surface of both rails on the ground.

To reduce the strength of magnet, hover the neodymium magnet above the magnet strip so that it will be repelled by the plastic magnet, then move it along the rail. 

To be more precise in this procedure, you must first identify the N and S of your plastic magnets and your neodymium magnet. You may use a compass to identify the poles. The south pole of the compass needle is the one that shows the north and attracts to the N pole of magnets. Also the North pole of a compass needle stays towards the south pole and attracts toward the S pole of magnets. 

To increase the strength of plastic magnet, rub its surface with the opposite pole of the neodymium magnet. To reduce its strength, hover the like pole of the neodymium magnet above its surface. 

Note: Super strong Neodymium magnet is also able to reverse the poles of a plastic magnet. For example if the surface of plastic magnet is N, you can rub that surface with the N pole of neo magnet in order to change it to S.


Make a decorative train using Styrofoam or construction paper and mount it over your wooden train base. A decorative structure makes your train more attractive for your science project display. 

You can glue or tape any decorative train car above your wooden train.

If you cut the foam to exact size of your wooden train, you will not need to use tape or glue. The model can sit right on the top of the wooden train and hold it snugly.

Additional upgrades:

The wooden train or the decorative train above that may be equipped with ejecting magnets so they can smoothly eject at the end of the rail. 

Ejecting magnets are usually rectangle magnets or small disk magnets that may be screwed or taped to both ends of a train.

To make these work, matching magnets must be mounted at the end of each rail in a way that they repel the train magnets.

The magnets at the end of the rail must be fully aligned with the train magnets so they can repel the train when it gets to the end of line.

End of line magnets may be mounted on another wood block or a small cardboard or plastic box.

Picture in the right shows an end of line magnet mounted on a wooden block that is hold in place using rubber bands. 

Other pictures:

The above instructions are based on the materials included in the magnet levitation science set of If you don't have these materials yet, you may use the following link to order them.

Magnet levitation Science Set Part#KITML

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