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Magnet Power

Target Audience Upper Key Stage 2

Link to the National Curriculum

Sc4 Physical Processes (Forces and Magnets)

Children should:

  • Notice that some forces need contact between the two objects, but magnetic forces can act at a distance.
  • Observe how magnets attract or repel each other and attract some materials


  • To enable children to understand the unique properties of magnets that make them such a useful addition in everyday lives

Download Worksheet

What you need

  • A selection of magnets
  • 4 by 2 blocks of wood
  • Thick card
  • Paper clips
  • Recording sheets.

What you do

  • See the video clip on the website: www.practicalprimaryscience.co.uk
  • Set up two 4 by 2 blocks on end
  • Place a stiff piece of card across the top of the blocks to form a bridge
  • Place a paper clip on the card
  • Hold a magnet close underneath the card and move it to and fro
  • The paper clip will also move.
  • Repeat this until the paper clip no longer moves and record the number of thicknesses of card the magnet has acted through..

Group /Class organisation

  • Depending on the number of adult helpers and apparatus available will determine how many groups of three / four children will take part in this practical activity.
  • If limited help is available then other children not involved directly in the practical activity should be engaged in associated activities that do not require high levels of support e.g. My favourite fridge magnet

How it works

  • All ferrous metals are made up of tiny magnetic particles(molecules) each with a North and South Pole, however the paricles are all jumbled up in random directions. In a magnet all the North poles are facing one direction and the South Poles are all arranged in lines in the opposite direction.This is why the poles are the strongest part of the magnet

Preliminary Activities

  • This would take the form of class or group discussion to consolidate their understanding of fridge magnets and their uses with possibly a display of their favourite magnets from home.

Follow up work

  • Challenge the children to devise their own ways of testing the strength of magnets.

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