Magnetism Lesson Plan: Magnetic Fields and Magnetic Poles

Submitted by: Lori Mowery

Grade Levels: 3-5, 6-8

In this lesson plan, which is adaptable for grades 3-8, students use BrainPOP resources to define, describe, and draw magnetic field lines around a single magnet. Students will also describe the interaction between like and unlike magnetic poles, and draw the combined fields created when like and unlike magnetic poles interact.

Students will:

  1. Define, describe, and draw magnetic field lines around a single magnet.
  2. Describe the interaction between like and unlike magnetic poles.
  3. Draw the combined fields created when like and unlike magnetic poles interact.

Materials:

  • 2 Bar Magnets (for each group of students)
  • Salt Shaker of Iron Filings (for each group of students)
  • Wax Paper (for each group of students)
  • Notebooks (to record results)
  • Pencils
  • Manilla File Folder (for each group of students)

Vocabulary:

Magnetism, Magnetic Field, Magnetic Field Lines, Magnetic Poles

Preparation:

Split the class so that students are working in groups of 2 or 3. Collect and organize all materials needed for the experiment. Preview the BrainPOP movies Magnetism and Electromagnets to determine places to pause, reflect, and discuss with your students while viewing as a class.

Lesson Procedure:

  1. Have students place a manila file folder on their desk or table, then place one bar magnet in the center of the file folder.
  2. Place a piece of wax paper on top of the magnet.
  3. Have students sprinkle iron filings all around the bar magnet (they may need to gently tap the wax paper with their finger to get the best view of the magnetic field lines).
  4. Have students draw what they see in their notebooks.
  5. Ask students the following questions: Are your lines of force greater at the ends or in the middle of the bar magnet? (Answer: at the ends) What assumption can you make about the strength of the magnetic field at that location? (Answer: The magnetic field is strongest at the ends or at the poles. This is where the the lines are concentrated and closer together.)
  6. Have the students place the used iron filings back in the saltshaker or in a location specified by you.
  7. Have the students now place two bar magnets onto the manila file folder so that North poles are facing each other and are about an inch apart. Place the wax paper on top of the magnets.
  8. Have students sprinkle iron filings around the north poles of the magnets (they may need to gently tap the wax paper win their finger to get the best view of the magnetic field lines).
  9. Have students draw what they see. Ask the students if the magnets are attracting or repelling? (Answer: Repelling) How do you know? (Answer: The magnetic field lines are bending away from each other.)
  10. Have the students place the used iron filings back in the saltshaker or in a location specified by you.
  11. Repeat steps 7, 8, and 9 with a north pole of one magnet facing the south pole of a second magnet.
  12. Ask students if these magnets are attracting or repelling? (Answer: attracting) How can you tell? (Answer: The magnetic field lines are connecting the two poles together.)
  13. Have the students clean up per your directions.
  14. Read the Experiment on Electromagnets. Discuss what roles electromagnets play in society and why/how the are important to us.
  15. Take the BrainPOP Magnetism Quiz either together as a whole class or individually (depending upon computer setup and availability).
  16. Discuss how like and unlike poles interact (ie. like poles repel and unlike poles attract.)
  17. Have students complete the Magnetism Activity Page (vocabulary) individually in class or for homework. Ask students if they have seen any of the vocab words before, and what they already know about them.
  18. Watch the BrainPOP movie Magnetism, pausing to reflect and discuss keywords which are addressed throughout the video.

Extension Activity:

Watch the BrainPOP movie Electromagnets. Complete a Venn Diagram comparing and contrasting Permanent Magnets (ex. was the bar magnet used in this activity) and Electromagnets.