Introduction to Magnetism





Name of Activity

Introduction to Magnetism




magnetism, electricity, circuits



Grade Level



1 Hour Total

Brief Description

Students will be introduced to the concept of magnetism through a combination of discussion, video, and a short activity.

Lesson Objectives:

-Introduce students to the concept of magnetism.

-Ensure students understand how electricity and magnetism are linked.

-Discuss the difference between naturally magnetic materials and electromagnets. Which is more useful to us and why? (Answer: electromagnets are used more often than natural magnets because they are able to be turned on and off.)

-A demonstration can be done using magnets and compasses, to be found in the CEEO. Students can see how the magnetic field of the magnet will influence the compass, which relies on the magnetic field of the Earth to show direction.

Materials Needed:



Preparation and Set Up:

-Collect enough materials such that students can test their compasses and magnets in pairs.

Necessary Background

Students should be given an introduction on magnetism, what it is, how we use it, how it is related to electricity, etc. We found that Bill Nye has a couple of excellent videos on Youtube explaining magnetism and electromagnetism.


  1. Provide students with background.
  2. Use BIll Nye or other videos to aid in the lesson portion of this activity (optional).
  3. Allow students to test out the compasses and magnets.
  4. Have students feel the magnets attract and repel when certain poles are facing eachother.

Umbrella Unit/Curriculum (if applicable)

Electricity & Magnetism

1 comment on this post.
  1. Kaitlyn Davis:

    We would not have had enough material to get through this class if it wasn’t for the Bill Nye clips. The kids were excited about the compass activity, but I think they wanted another activity or demonstration rather than the lecturing and videos.

    Here is the Bill Nye episode on magnetism. There are lots of great sections you could choose to show!

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