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20 October 2014
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Magnets and Springs - lesson plan

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A magnet and a metal keyTo know that there are forces between magnets and that magnets can attract (pull towards) and repel (push away from) each other.

National Curriculum

Sc1, 2c, 2j; Sc4, 2ab.


You will need Adobe Acrobat reader to access the PDF files. BBC Webwise has a complete guide to downloading and installing Adobe Acrobat reader.

Teaching activities


  1. Play the Bitesize magnets and springs quiz as a class on the interactive whiteboard.
  2. Bring up the Bitesize magnets and springs activity on the interactive whiteboard to recap on the children's knowledge of which materials are magnetic.
  3. Drag three objects (not the magnet) onto the virtual table and ask children to predict whether they will be attracted by the magnet. Ask the higher ability group to create a hypothesis with reasons. Use the activity to test if their hypothesis was right.
  4. Turn the magnet on the bar over and ask the children to make new predictions. Use the activity to test if they were right.
  5. Ask the children to predict the answer to the following question - Does it make any difference which end of the magnet you use to attract materials?.


  1. Drag the magnet onto the virtual table.
  2. Ask the children to predict what will happen when you place the magnet on the bar above it. Test if they were right.
  3. 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.
  4. Take a pair of real bar magnets and show the children that the magnets have two ends - one end is called south, the other end is called north.
  5. Put the two magnets on a table, 30 cm apart, with north and south facing each other.
  6. Draw the arrangement of magnets on the whiteboard and label the ends.
  7. 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 acting forces.
  8. Ask the children to get into pairs and repeat this task, and then try to push the two north ends together, followed by the two south ends.
  9. Ask the children to record their observations in labelled drawings.


  1. Ask the children what they observed.
  2. Explain that when the magnets jump apart the magnetic force pushes rather then pulls and the magnets repel each other.
  3. Ask the children to add these labels to their diagrams.
  4. Ask the children which ends repel each other and which ends attract each other.
  5. Return to the Bitesize magnets and springs activity. Does anybody want to change their prediction? Test with the activity.
  6. Ask the children what they know about the two ends of the magnet in the activity? (They are either both souths or both norths).
  7. Ask the children to get into pairs and create their own three-question quiz to play with their classmates to reinforce learning.


  1. Do the children think a pair of large bar magnets will be attracted or repelled from a further distance than a small pair?
  2. Ask the children to predict the result and then to test their prediction, using a ruler to measure the results.
  3. Alternatively, ask the children to complete the Magnets and springs worksheet (PDF 61KB).


Ask the children to create a rap that explains the key learning from the lesson and includes key scientific vocabulary such as 'attract', 'repel' and so on.

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