Magnetic Match

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SWBAT describe which poles of magnets attract and repel each other.

Big Idea

Junior Scientists explore with poles of bar magnets to find out how they function.

Setting the Stage

National Science Teaching Standards:

“Magnets attract and repel.”

In this lesson, students learn which poles of magnets attract and repel each other. Students observe that opposite poles attract and like poles repel. This lesson is imperative because students learn how magnetic poles work collectively. This lesson is taught because, in Tennessee, students are required to learn about magnets as one of the kinds of force. 

Science and Engineering Practice:

SP4 addresses using collected data to present data in a form that can reveal any patterns and relationships and that allows results to be communicated to others. Students attempt to put different magnetic poles together and observe any patterns and relationships that are recognized and put the findings on a chart for them to analyze and interpret.

SP 8 addresses obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information in K–2. Students communicate information with others in oral and written form to discuss scientific ideas. In this lesson, students collaborate in groups to discuss how poles of magnets attract or repel each other.

Prior Knowledge:

The students understand force is a push or pull. They also understand magnetism is a type of force. The students investigate magnets and they understand that magnets can attract or repel items.  Various kinds of metal are attracted to magnets such as: iron, nickel, and cobalt. Steel contains iron so it is also attracted to magnets.

Junior Scientists:

In my class, my students are called Junior Scientists. They wear lab jackets they created early in the school year to be worn during experiments. I call them junior scientists to encourage them to major in Science and Math related careers. I want them to develop a love for Science and Math. Also, we sing "It Is Science Time" or "I Got A Feeling Song" before each lesson.



10 minutes

At their desks, students sing a song at the opening of each science lesson.  This song motivates and engages my Junior Scientists at the beginning of each science lesson. During science lessons, I call my students scientists to empower students and make them dreamers and doers.

“I Can” Statement

One student is called on to read the “I Can” statement for the day. Using an over-sized microphone, a scientist says, "I can identify the poles of a magnet that attract or repel each other." Reciting the “I Can” statement motivates the students to engage in the activity because it allows the students to take ownership of the lesson.

Pole Portion:  Students complete a “Do Now” assignment about the poles of a magnet. The students answer two questions (Why do magnets attack items? When do magnets repel items?). Once students have completed the warm-up activity, there is a quick debriefing about the poles. I provide the students with the ‘Do Now’ assignment to review the understanding from the previous lesson.

Do Now Work-Magnet-Student Work


20 minutes

My students proceed to their group tables when I say "We Are On The Move" and they stand and sing, We Are On The Move. This routine helps my students move to their table with very few distractions. This also helps my auditory learners who enjoy singing as well as my kinesthetic children who enjoy moving.  

When students get to their tables, they begin to assign their roles: a person to lead, record, measure, and report. I assign the leader who is one of my advanced students who posseses, leadership qualities. They put on their group labels with a clothes pin to ensure that I know each child's role.  Students are grouped by abilities to support their learning. I want all my students to take ownership of their learning, so assigning roles permits students to develop confidence in their roles while using their strengths to accomplish their group's goals.  All hands must be on deck.  The groups are reminded of the group rules. The group rules are located at their table so they can reference them.

Groups are provided with a “Magnetic Match” lab sheet. Then the groups are asked to observe the bar magnets that are used for the experiment. Observing the magnets allows the groups to familiarize themselves with the magnets (the letters on the magnets, the different poles). The groups predict which ends of the magnets attract or repel each other when they attempt to put them together. They  write down their predictions on the lab sheet. After groups make their predictions, they investigate the poles of the magnet, and write the outcome on the lab sheet.  For instance, if they place two ‘like’ poles together, what would happen?  If they place two ‘opposite’ poles together, what would happen? 

As they complete the investigation, I pose these questions: What happened when you attempted to put two like poles together? They repelled. How did it feel? I could feel the force between the magnets but they did not attract. What happened when you attempted to put opposite poles together? They attracted. Explain?

I discuss these questions after the investigation to ensure that students understand how poles attract or repel.

Magnetic Match-Student Work

Magnetic Match-video


10 minutes

Students are summoned to their desks. I pose the following questions to the students: What  happen when you touch a north pole to a south pole? What happen when you touch a north pole and a north pole? These questions are asked to checking for students understanding.

I take up the their lab sheet so I can evaluate their responses, too. This helps me to guide my next steps.