Magnets and Electricity STEM


With this Magnets and Electricity STEM lesson plan, your students will have a blast learning all about one of the most fascinating phenomena in the natural world—electromagnetism! They will get to paint with magnets, build their own compasses, and conduct all sorts of fun experiments that will help them better understand how magnets work and how we use them in our everyday lives.

This is an excellent way to get your students excited about science and engineering, and it’s sure to inspire some great creativity too! So don’t wait—grab this lesson plan today and let your students explore the wonderful world of magnets and electricity!

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What our Magnets and Electricity STEM lesson plan includes

Lesson Objectives and Overview: Magnets and Electricity STEM explores how magnets work and how electricity and create them. Students will discover how many uses we have for a magnet and discuss various practical applications. This lesson is for students in 3rd grade and 4th grade.

Classroom Procedure

Every lesson plan provides you with a classroom procedure page that outlines a step-by-step guide to follow. You do not have to follow the guide exactly. The guide helps you organize the lesson and details when to hand out worksheets. It also lists information in the yellow box that you might find useful. You will find the lesson objectives, state standards, and number of class sessions the lesson should take to complete in this area. In addition, it describes the supplies you will need as well as what and how you need to prepare beforehand. This lesson requires needles, magnets, corks, thumbtacks, pliers, bowls, and water for the activity. For the practice, you need to provide magnet wands, various magnetic and nonmagnetic items, paper, paint of multiple colors, lids, cups, and spoons. Before you begin the lesson, make sure you prepare by pouring the paint into small cups or an egg carton.

Options for Lesson

You will find several suggestions for additional ideas and activities in the “Options for Lesson” section of the classroom procedure page. One suggestion involves using metal shavings to show where the magnetic field is located on the two poles of a magnet. This gives students a hands-on look at the power of a magnet. Another option is to bring in magnets of different sizes and have students feel the “power” of each one. One more idea is to explore the concept of electromagnetic trains and research further to explore how these trains work and the pollution reduction that results.

Teacher Notes

The teacher notes page provides an extra paragraph of information to help guide the lesson and remind you what to focus on. The blank lines on this page are available for you to write out thoughts and ideas you have as you prepare the lesson.



The Magnets and Electricity STEM lesson plan has three content pages. A rock or piece of metal that can pull types of metal toward itself is called a magnet. Magnetism is simply the force that magnets have. It is an elemental force of nature. It works over a distance, which means that it does not have touch an object in order to pull it in. However, the closer the magnets are, the stronger the force will be.

Around the ends of all magnets is a magnetic field called a pole. All magnets have two poles called the north pole and the south pole. If we place two magnets together and the poles are opposite (north and south), they will attract one another. It is tough to pull them apart when they touch one another. On the other hand, we could try to place two magnets together that have the same poles (north and north or south and south). But they will repel or push away from one another. This is because the magnetic poles are the strongest part of the magnet.

Students will learn that Earth also has a magnetic field. Our planet is like a giant magnet! When we use a compass, the needle inside is a magnet with two poles. The north pole of the needle attracts to the North Pole on Earth. This is why the compass needle always points north.

Static Electricity

Many students have probably experienced electric shock after rubbing their feet on carpet or touching a metal doorknob. Or perhaps they have noticed that sometimes they create sparks when they rub their hand on the screen after turning off the television or their computer. That shock is static electricity.

When we rub one object against another, it builds up the object’s electrical charge and create static electricity. Like magnets, static electricity causes things with opposite charges to stick together and the same charges to repel. This means it can push or pull objects without touching them. But unlike a magnet, it attracts and repels due to electrical charges.

A magnet that uses electricity is called an electromagnet. Electromagnets can be turned on and off with electricity. That’s because they are only magnetic when there is a solenoid. A solenoid is a coil of wire with electricity running through it. Without the wire, it would not be magnetic. The current that flows in the circuit is proportional to the strength of the magnet. Therefore, the power of the magnet can change depending on the amount of electricity going through the solenoid.

Cool Facts

Electromagnets power speakers, doorbells, and even construction cranes! But they are most known for their use in electric motors. An electric motor generates a magnetic field with a solenoid. The magnetic field causes movement, which powers the motor. There are actually electric motors inside our computers. They operate the hard drive and turn on the fans.

Magnetic levitation (maglev) is a technology that uses high-powered magnetic fields to move trains. Maglev trains are a type of high-speed rail. Magnetic fields lift the train a little bit above the tracks by repelling and driving the train. In other words, Maglev trains do not have an engine.

Magnets always have two poles, even when we cut them in half. The most powerful magnet in the universe is a star called a magnetar. Some animals, like bees, are affected by magnets. For example, sharks are repelled by magnets, and turtles and birds use them to navigate. Magnets (specifically loadstone) were used by ancient sailors to help them navigate.


The Magnets and Electricity STEM lesson plan includes three worksheets: an activity worksheet, a practice worksheet, and a homework assignment. Each one will reinforce students’ comprehension of lesson material in different ways and help them demonstrate when they learned. Use the guidelines on the classroom procedure page to determine when to distribute each worksheet to the class.


Students will get to build a compass for the activity. First, they must magnetize the needle by stroking it with the magnet from top to bottom at least 50 times. After magnetizing the other side by repeating the stroking process, they will have to prepare the cork. They will first need to cut a piece of cork about an inch thick. Then they can push a thumbtack into the center and pull it out to create a small hole for the needle to go in.

Students will then fill a bowl with a few inches of water. To test the compass, they will place the cork and needle in the water and observe how it moves. Using a second compass and placing it in the water, students will then complete the bottom half of the worksheet.


For the practice worksheet, students will get to paint with magnets. First, they will fill cups with different colored paints. (You may have this part prepared beforehand if you wish.) Students will then cut a piece of paper to fit their tray or lid and carefully drop a metal piece into the paint. They will scoop it out and place it somewhere on the paper. Using a magnetic wand under the tray, they will move the metal piece around the page. After they finish their artworks, students will answer a series of questions based on what they observed.


The homework assignment requires students to watch a video about how electromagnets work. They will then response to four prompts based on what they learned during the video. If need be, they can watch more than one video to ensure they get the information they need to answer the questions correctly.

Worksheet Answer Keys

There are answer keys for the practice and homework worksheets of this lesson plan. Students’ responses for both of these assignments will vary given the nature of the questions. However, their answers should reflect correct concepts and ideas. If you choose to administer the lesson pages to your students via PDF, you will need to save a new file that omits these pages. Otherwise, you can simply print out the applicable pages and keep these as reference for yourself when grading assignments.

Additional information


3rd Grade, 4th Grade


Science, STEM

State Educational Standards

NGSS.P-3S2-3, NGSS.MS-PS2-5, NGSS.3-PS2-3

Lessons are aligned to meet the education objectives and goals of most states. For more information on your state objectives, contact your local Board of Education or Department of Education in your state.