Magnets- Engage and Explore

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SWBAT make predictions and observations about magnets and their effects on other magnets and magnetic objects.

Big Idea

Magnetic interactions with other magnets and magnetic objects follow predictable patterns.


10 minutes

I show students the different magnets they will be working with today.  I ordered them from several online sources so that they would be in different strengths and sizes.  (insert image here).  Then I give them an example of what I expect them to draw in a diagram.

Engage and Explore

25 minutes

I let students explore with the standard (not neodymium) magnets for about a half an hour.  I did let some of my more reliable rule-followers use one tiny neodymium magnet each.  As the students moved around the classroom with the magnets, testing them out on different objects, I move with them.  I ask guiding questions and prompt them to speak specifically.  For example, I asked,

  • Which objects is the magnet attracted to or are attracted to the magnet?  
  • Which objects are unaffected?”  

Most students have enough experience to assume that magnets are attracted to metals so when they observe that magnets are not attracted to all metals, I ask them to think about why this might be so.

  • Why isn’t all metal magnetic?
  • What might be the properties that make some metallic substances magnetic and while others are not magnetic?  

When students make comments such as, “Wow, that was so cool!  Did you see that?”  I usually agree, but then ask them to frame it in specific terms.  

  • Why was it “cool/interesting”?  
  • What surprised you?  
  • What makes that interesting to you?  
  • Did you expect that to happen?

Sharing Observations - Verbally and in Writing

25 minutes


Here is an example of one unusual observation made by a student:

Here is a short compilation of the types of observations students made about how their magnets interacted with ordinary classroom objects.