Introduction To Magnets

Sheila McKinnon Sherman School
1000 W. 52nd. St.
Chicago IL 60609
(312) 535-1757


The students will familiarize themselves with several different kinds of
magnets. They will observe the forces of attraction and repulsion between the
different poles. I will introduce and we will experiment with the forces of
magnetism, electromagnetism and static electricity. This lesson can be adapted
to instruct kindergarten through high school. This is a three to four week

Materials Needed:

The materials needed for this introductory lesson is as follows:
A. magnets of different sizes and shapes (bar, horseshoe, etc.)
B. iron filings
C. stand for holding two magnets with a string
D. miscellaneous items; Such as, bottle caps, buttons,
paper clips, coins, pencils, pens, needles, and plastic disks
E. chart paper, tissue paper and drawing paper
F. markers and crayons
G. scissors and string
H. picture charts (for visual display)
I. masking tape
J. clear plastic board, approximately 6x8 or plastic wrap
K. overhead projector machine and transparency sheet
L. batteries
M. wire
N. fur
O. plexiglass case with filings
P. compass


In this unit we will explore the forces of attraction and repulsion. Such as
magnetism, electromagnetism, and static electricity.
Sometimes the students will work in small groups on experiments and at other
times they will work individually (according to the activity and class size).
The teacher will set up the materials necessary for each experiment and
the students will gather the materials that they will need for each experiment.
The strategy of the first lesson is to let the students explore and observe
the magnets. They will observe the lines of force, the attraction and the
repelling forces that all magnets exhibit. They will also become familiar with
the poles of each magnet and observe for themselves the differences between the
north and south sides of the magnet.
Each group of students will have to select from the list of materials a chart
marker, magnets of different shapes, paper clips, plastic paper cut in squares,
iron filings and other miscellaneous materials.
The teacher will use the overhead projector, two bar magnets, iron filings
and a transparency sheet to demonstrate and compare the forces of the magnet's
Each group of students will use their experience charts and markers to jot
down information that they have gathered about their magnets. They will then
present their data to the class.
Later, after the students have completed their observations of magnets, they
can begin to experiment with them. They should label each experiment.
The next experiment is to understand how a compass works. They will find out
that the earth acts like a giant magnet and attracts other magnets toward its
north pole. For this experiment the children will need a bowl, sewing needle
and a small square piece of tissue paper. The students will float a small piece
of paper in a bowl of water, and rest a needle (that has been rubbed with a
magnet) on it. When the needle is still they will mark which way it points.
The students can compare their experiments with others that made needle magnets.
They should find that all needles should point the same direction, which is
along a north-south line.
The third experiment is to let each child make an electromagnet. For this
experiment they will need a piece of wire about sixteen inches long, a nail, a
C-size battery and three pieces of masking tape. The strongest electromagnet
will win a prize. We can test it by observing which student's electromagnet can
pick up the most paper clips.
The final experiment will be to demonstrate static electricity. The students
will need a picture of snake from the MacMillian Science Activities, a large
piece of tissue paper, a small wool cloth, and scissors. They must trace the
snake on the paper, cut it out. Then they should rub their pen with the wool
until it will begin to make the snake wiggle.
The teacher should set up experimental stations and let the children display
and label their work.

Performance Assessment:

The student will be assessed as a group and individually according to whether
they have completed every task asked of them. Each student will demonstrate
knowledge of what each experiment is about and explain on paper and orally what
each experiment demonstrates.


The Usborne Book of Science Experiments, By Jane Bingham, Usborne Publishing
Copyright, 1991; And the MacMillian Science Group.
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