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Becky McCoy

Lesson Title: Magnet Introduction Timing: 60 minutes

Target Audience:
11th and 12th grade Physics Class

Students Will Be Able To:
• Identify properties of magnets.
• Explore magnetic interactions.
• Compare magnetic properties to electrical properties.

The Teacher Will Be Able To:

• Identify student misconceptions.
• Provide students with opportunities to define magnetic properties.
• Give students a solid basis for the magnetism unit.

Standards Assessed:
New York State Standards in Physics
4.1 Observe and describe transmission of various forms of energy.
xv. map the magnetic field of a permanent magnet, indicating the direction of the field between the N
(north-seeking) and S (south-seeking) poles
4.1j Energy may be stored in electric* or magnetic fields. This energy may be transferred through
conductors or space and may be converted to other forms of energy.
4.1k Moving electric charges produce magnetic fields. The relative motion between a conductor and a
magnetic field may produce a potential difference in the conductor.
5.1 Students can explain and predict different patterns of motion of objects (e.g., linear and uniform circular
motion, velocity and acceleration, momentum and inertia).
5.1t Gravitational forces are only attractive, whereas electrical and magnetic forces can be attractive or

National Science Education Standards (1996) as published on

6.2 Table of Physical Science Standards, Level 9-12
• Structure and properties of matter.
• Interactions of energy and matter.
6.7 Table of History and Nature of Science Standards, Level 9-12
• Science as a human endeavor.
• Historical perspectives.

Misconception(s) Addressed:
• Magnetic fields behave the same as • Magnetic field lines start at one pole
electric fields and end at the other.
• North and south magnetic poles are the • Poles can be isolated.
same as positive and negative charges. • Flux is the same as field lines.
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• Flux is actually the flow of the Earth.

magnetic field. • Charges, when released, will move
• Magnetic fields are the same as electric toward the poles of a magnet.
fields. • Generating electricity requires no work.
• Charges at rest can experience magnetic • When generating electricity only the
forces. magnet can move.
• Magnetic fields from magnets are not • Voltage can only be induced in a closed
caused by moving charges. circuit.
• Magnetic fields are not 3-dimensional. • Magnetic flux, rather than change of
• Magnetic field lines hold you on the magnetic flux, causes an induced emf.

Prior Knowledge: Electricity Unit and prior knowledge

Aim: To explore and define magnetic properties.

Concept Map Vocabulary: n/a

Necessary Preparation:

• Magnetic Concepts Worksheet

• Pair of magnets for each lab group
• Paper clips
• Nails
• Coins
• Other magnetic and non-magnetic objects
• Meter sticks

• Label ends of magnets
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Lesson Plan

Aim: To explore and define magnetic properties.

Physics Push-Up: What is a magnet? (10 minutes)

Have students brainstorm what makes a magnet a magnet. Record all ideas on the board and allow students to
discuss and support their thoughts.

Activity: Magnetic Discoveries (25 minutes)

• Magnetic Concepts Worksheet
• Pair of magnets for each lab group
• Paper clips
• Nails
• Coins
• Other magnetic and non-magnetic objects
• Meter sticks

Ask for student contributions to fill the left side of a T Chart with everything they know about electricity:
• interaction between positively and negatively charged particles
• proton and electron
• electric field
• etc

Have students predict how there might be similar interactions and concepts in magnetism. Do not add these to
the T chart, just have a discussion.

Give each lab team two magnets with sides labeled “A”, “B”, “C”, and “D”. Have them try placing each side
near each other. They should predict what properties the magnet has based on the magnetic interactions.

Go back to the T Chart and add the term “north and south poles” analogous to “proton and electron” as well
as “attraction between opposite poles and repulsion between alike poles” near “interaction between
positively and negatively charged particles”.

Distribute an assortment of materials to each group, which might include paper clips, nails, and other materials
that will be attracted to the magnets as well as some objects such as coins that students might think will be
attracted, but are not.

Have students play with the different materials and predict and record what happens to the interactions on their
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Students should then take some time to measure how near each of their magnetic objects must be to the magnet
in order to experience an interaction.

Activity Summary: Predictions (15 minutes)

Have students predict why the strength of magnetic interaction changes with distance. After a time of
brainstorming, have some students volunteer to share their ideas.

Homework: Wolfram Demonstrations Magnet (5 minutes)

Have students download and run the Wolfram Demonstration “A Simple Model of Magnetization”. They
should also have the free Wolfram Player software. Students should write about their observations in the
following situations:
• There is no magnetization: the poles within the magnet are not aligned.
• Magnetization is pi: the poles within the magnet are aligned and the iron has two magnetic poles.
• Magnetization is –pi: the poles within the magnet are aligned opposite to above and the iron has two
magnetic poles.

Students should then open the Colorado PhET simulation “Magnet and Compass”. They should click the “show
planet earth” button and record their observations as they change the orientation of the Earth and the compass 5

Exit Strategy: Clean Up Materials (5 minutes)

Students must hand in their lab materials as they leave the room.

Extension Activity:
Begin the homework on the projector with students.

• Student responses to questions and discussions.
• Student worksheets.
• Homework assignment.

NYU Magnet Workshop:

Notes & Adaptations:

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Magnetic Concepts
Name: Date:

Put each end of the two magnets together and describe what happens to the right of the diagram.





Describe why you think the magnets interacted the way they did.
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For each object, predict how it will interact with the magnets and record your observations.

Object Prediction Observations

Paper Clip



For each of the objects that experienced a magnetic force, experiment to see how near the must be to begin to
experience an attraction. Begin with the object .1m away from the magnet. Place the object on the table and see
if it is attracted. If not, move it closer to the magnet until it experiences attraction. If it is attracted, place it
further away from the magnet to find the distance at which it begins to interact. Record your findings below.