BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

20 October 2014
Schools  >> All subjects for ages 4 - 11 years Science Clips
Teachers resources  

BBC Homepage
  BBC Schools  
Science Clips Welcome
Resources for teachers
  Web Links
  Schools Help

Contact Us

Ages 5 - 6 Ages 6 - 7 Ages 7 - 8
Ages 8 - 9 Ages 9 - 10 Ages 10 - 11

Science topics ages 7 - 8
Magnets and springs

Curriculum relevance | Online lesson plan
Offline lesson plan | Worksheet | Activity |

Online lesson plan


Know that there are forces between magnets and that magnets can attract (pull towards) and repel (push away from) each other

Make and record careful observations of magnets

Know that magnets attract some metals but not others and that other materials are not attracted to magnets

National Curriculum

England: Key Stage 2, Science, Sc1 2c, 2j; Sc4 2a

Wales: Key Stage 2, Physical processes 2.4

Northern Ireland: Key Stage 1, Materials, Properties, c

Scotland: 5-14 Guidelines, Science, Forces and their effects, Level B

Resources required

Online activity from Science Clips website: Magnets and springs

Pairs of bar magnets with ends labelled north and south

Teaching activities

On an interactive whiteboard, bring up the Magnets and springs online activity. Use it to recap children’s knowledge of which materials are magnetic. Drag three objects (not the magnet) onto the virtual table, and ask children to predict whether they will be attracted by the magnet, explaining their reasons. Then use the activity to test if they were right. Turn the magnet on the bar over, and ask the children to make new predictions. Once again, use the activity to test if they were right. Does it make any difference which end of the magnet you use to attract materials?

Drag the magnet onto the virtual table. Ask children to predict what will happen when you place the magnet on the bar above it. Test if they were right. Turn the magnet on the bar around and ask the children to predict what they think will happen now. Take responses but do not test.

Take a real pair of bar magnets and show the children that the magnets have two ends; one end is called south, one is called north. Put the two magnets on a table 30cm apart (north and south facing each other). Draw the arrangement of magnets on the whiteboard and label the ends. Move one magnet closer to the other until they are attracted. Label the whiteboard drawing with arrows and words (including Pull and Attract) describing what happened and the forces acting.

In pairs, children repeat this task, and then try to push the two north ends together, followed by the two south ends. They record their observations in labelled drawings.

Ask the children what they observed. Explain that when the magnets jump apart, the magnetic force pushes rather then pulls, and the magnets repel each other. Ask the children to add these labels to their diagrams. Which ends repel each other and which ends attract each other. Return to the online activity. Does anybody want to change their prediction? Test with the activity. What do they know about the two ends of the magnet in the activity? (They are either both souths or both norths.)


Do they think a pair of larger bar magnets will be attracted or repelled from a further distance than a small pair? Predict, and then test, using a ruler to measure results.

Suggested homework

Ask children to find objects at home that use magnets (a compass, for example).


Resources for teachers

About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy