Magnets STEM


Magnets STEM teaches students all about magnetism and magnetic fields and how magnetic and electric forces work. Students will discover that only some metals are capable of magnetism, such as steel an iron. They will also learn that objects to not have to be touching in order for magnetism to work.

In the “Options for Lesson” section of the classroom procedure page, you will find a few additional ideas or activities for the lesson. One such idea is to allow students to spend more time playing with and using magnets throughout the lesson. You could also take advantage of online resources and games.

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What our Magnets STEM lesson plan includes

Lesson Objectives and Overview: Magnets STEM introduces students to magnetic forces, how they work, and the various uses magnets have. Students will learn which metals are capable of attracting other metals. They will also discover that some non-metallic objects cannot be magnetized even if they can conduct electricity. This lesson is for students in 2nd grade and 3rd 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.

Options for Lesson

The “Options for Lesson” section of the classroom procedure page outlines a few extra suggestions for additional ideas and activities to incorporate into the lesson. For the activity, you could allow students to work in pairs rather than by themselves. Throughout the lesson, you could also allow students more opportunities to play with and use magnets. Another idea is to take advantage of other resources to supplement students’ learning. The Idaho Public Television Science Trek website offers several grade-appropriate and fun games online. You could use them as a lesson opener or closer. The link to the website, and specifically to games relating to magnets, is included in this section.

Teacher Notes

The paragraph on this page gives you a little more information on the lesson overall and what to expect students to gain from it. It explains that this lesson focuses on the conceptual framework of how magnets work. The blank lines are available for you to write out any thoughts or ideas you have as you prepare.


Magnets and Magnetism

The Magnets STEM lesson plan contains three pages of content. The lesson begins by having students think about the magnets they put on their refrigerators or teachers put on whiteboards. It asks them to consider what a magnet actually is. Students will also think about other uses a magnet might have apart from sticking things to various surfaces.

To provide a basic foundation, the lesson explains that a magnet is a piece of metal that can stick to or attract certain kinds of metals. Magnetism is a natural force, just like electricity and gravity. It allows metals to act this way. Students will discover that magnetism works over a distance. An object does not have to be touching something magnetic to work. Magnets have invisible magnetic fields.

A magnetic field is the area around a magnet that attracts other metals toward it, or pushes things away. When a metal object develops a magnetic field, we can say that object is magnetized. However, the lesson reminds students that not all things, even metal things, are magnetic or can become magnetized. Therefore, it asks students how exactly magnets work?

Magnetic Poles

As mentioned, magnetism occurs naturally. Some students may not realize that the Earth itself has a magnetic field, and an incredibly strong one. This is because Earth’s core is made of metal. The Earth spins and rotates, and these behaviors, combined with the heat that its core generates, cause electrical currents. Those currents in turn create a magnetic field into space!

The Earth has places called the North Pole and South Pole. Magnets have poles too, and scientists name them north and south as well. These poles are the points where the magnetic field is the strongest. A compass always points north because the needle inside it is magnetized. The arrow follows the magnetic force on the Earth.

Students should remember, however, that the North and South Poles on Earth do not align exactly with the magnetic north and south poles of Earth’s magnetic field. Geographic north and south are fixed locations on the very top and very bottom of a globe, so they never change. However, magnetic north and south vary according to changes in the Earth’s core.

Attraction and Repulsion

Some things attract to magnets while other do not. Why is that? The third page of the lesson explains the concepts of attraction and repulsion. The saying “opposites attract” applies to magnets perfectly because of the properties of the magnet’s two poles. As a reminder to students, all magnets have a north pole and a south pole.

When the north pole of one magnet aligns with the south pole of another, the magnets pull toward each other, or attract to each other. On the other hand, if either the north poles or the south poles of a magnet align, they will repel or push apart. (This point would be a good opportunity for students to try and force magnets together at the same poles and experience the repulsion effect.)

Magnets stick to a fridge because of the metal door, or hidden metal material inside the door. The magnet has an opposite electrical charge or current than the fridge. Therefore, the magnet magnetizes the area of the steel door that it touches. Again, opposites attract!

The same force that makes a fridge magnet stick and a compass point north exists in many other objects. People use magnets in lots of different things. The lesson provides a list of 16 common objects that contain magnets. These include speakers, watches, door bells, cell phones, TVs, credit cards, and microwaves. Students will learn that nearly every thing that uses an electrical current will also include a magnetic component of some kind.

Key Terms

Here is a list of the vocabulary words students will learn in this lesson plan:

  • Magnet—a piece of metal that can attract or stick to certain kinds of metals
  • Magnetism—a natural force that allows magnets to work
  • Magnetic field—an invisible area around a magnet that attracts other metals
  • Pole—the point at which the magnetic field is strongest
  • Attract—when the north pole of one magnet aligns with the south pole of another magnet
  • Repel—when the north poles or south poles of two magnets align


The Magnets STEM lesson plan include three worksheets: an activity worksheet, a practice worksheet, and a homework assignment. Each one will help reinforce students’ grasp of the concepts they learned and allow them to demonstrate their knowledge. The guide on the classroom procedure page outlines when to hand out each worksheet to the class throughout the lesson.


For the activity, students will create a compass. The worksheet outlines the instructions they should follow and the supplies they will need. These include a bowl of water, a cork, a steel sewing needle, a magnet, and a compass. If you want, you can have students work in pairs. Once they manage to create their compasses, students will respond to three questions based on what they observe.


Similar to the activity, this worksheet requires students to create an electromagnet. The supplies they will need include large nails, coated copper wire, uncoated metal paper clips of varying sizes, a D-cell battery, electric tape, and wire stripper. Coarse sandpaper will work as a wire stripper as well. After following the directions to create the magnet, students will respond to three prompts at the bottom of the worksheet. The worksheet notes a cautionary statement about the heat of the nail once the wire coils around it. Make sure to remind students to be careful to avoid touching the coils during the experiment.


The homework assignment requires students to read a short explanation about the world’s fastest train. Using what they learned throughout the lesson, students will explain how the Shanghai Maglev can levitate above the tracks and travel at such quick speeds.

Worksheet Answer Keys

The lesson plan provides answer keys for both the practice and homework worksheets. For the practice worksheet, the answer key shows sample answers that students’ responses should, for the most part, match. The second question will vary because students’ electromagnets will yield different results. For the homework assignment, the answer key offers a short paragraph that students’ responses should generally reflect. 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


2nd Grade, 3rd Grade


Science, STEM

State Educational Standards

NGSS.3-PS2-3, NGSS.3-PS2-4

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.

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A Great way to Teach!

Fun and exciting with diagrams ans pictures to help explain what's being learnt! Thank you guys!!

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I loved having supplemental materials to help with magnet instruction for a first grade class. Ideas to present information, as well as activities made this a great unit to teach and something that students enjoyed.

United States United States

You guys rock!

I am so grateful for all of your educational resources! You have such an array of information and I find it helpful the way it’s organized! My kids found this resource in particular easy to follow and engaging.

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Always a great resource

Thank you again for your resources. I did not have access to my card at that time but will give a donation next time.

Mark P.


This was a really helpful lesson!