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Magnetic Attraction

In this activity, students will explore what sorts of materials a magnet will attract.

Objectives

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

Materials

  • For each Group:
    magnets
    small piece of lodestone, magnetite & other rock
    iron filings (in plastic bag)
    nuts and bolts
    paper clip
    string
    pencil
    nickel, dime & penny
    wooden blocks or wooden toothpicks
    plastic toy
    glass marble

Key Questions

  • What objects stick to magnets?
  • What is so special about a lodestone?
  • Does a magnet have to touch an object to attract it?

What To Do

  1. In groups, have students use their magnets to sort the objects into those that stick to a magnet and those that don’t.
  2. What sticks? All metal things? (Nope! Only iron, nickel and cobalt).
  3. Talk about lodestone. It will stick – lodestone is a naturally occurring magnet!
  4. Challenge students to make things stick to a magnet through a plastic box lid or a piece of paper.
  5. Tie a paper clip to a piece of string and tape the other end of the string to a table. Challenge students to lift the paper clip and hold it up without touching it!

Extensions

  • You’ll probably notice that some nickels and pennies are attracted to magnets but others are not. The composition of coins has changed over the years. Visit Royal Canadian Mint to learn more.

Other Resources

Royal Canadian Mint | Coin Production