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Is it a Magnet?

In this activity, students find ways to test if something is a magnet and what materials are magnetic.


  • Explain the difference between magnetic and non-magnetic materials.


  • Per Class or Group:
    magnets of all shapes and sizes.
    other items that may/may not be magnetic.

Key Questions

  • How can you tell if something is magnetic?

What To Do

  1. Ask the students which of the items are magnets (include some that will confuse them).
  2. Identify the idea of testing to determine what is a magnet, what test could we use? (e.g. Will it pick up paperclips?).
  3. Test a few items.
  4. Pass out collections of magnets and magnetic items and ask students to discover which items are magnets.


  • Can you think of other things that contain magnets? Some examples: headphones, computer speakers, telephone receivers, phone ringers, microwave tubes, doorbell ringer, refrigerator magnets to hold things, credit card magnetic strip, computer hard drive recording and reading head, dishwasher water valve solenoid, shower curtain weights / attach to tub, timers (microwave, dishwasher, washer/dryer), kitchen exhaust fans, cell phone vibrator, can opener (motor, lid holder magnet), car electric door locks, car engine speed sensors.)