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Anna Kingsbury
SCI 319
April 8, 2016
Final Draft
TITLE: What Weakens a Magnet?
GRADE LEVEL: 8th
TIME REQUIRED: One week, assuming one hour each day
Engage: Day 1; 20 minutes to discuss what students already know about
magnets
Explore: Day 1; 45 minutes to plan and conduct an experiment
Explain: Day 2; 45 minutes to discuss experiments and 15 minutes to discuss
domains
Elaborate: Day 3-5; 2.5 hours to work on projects and 30 minutes for the
gallery walk
Evaluate: homework
STANDARDS:

MS-PS2-3 Ask questions about data to determine the factors that affect the
strength of electric and magnetic forces.

OBJECTIVES:
The student will:
1. Design an experiment to test the factors affecting a magnet’s attraction to an
object.
2. Analyze and interpret data about the factors influencing the strength of a
magnet.
3. Differentiate between factors that affect the strength of a magnet and ones
that do not.
4. Explain why magnets are influenced by certain factors.
MATERIALS:

Engage: various types of magnets such as: bar magnets, fridge magnets, and
others (enough for each table group to have a few different types), sealable
plastic bags, index cards, iron filings.
Explore: the different types of magnets used in Explain, Experiment Outline
worksheets (one for each student, page 8-9), rulers, string, ice, hot plate,
beakers, tongs to handle hot/cold magnets, protractors, and various objects
that are or are not attracted to magnets (aluminum foil, paperclips, nails,
coins, cups, objects made of glass or plastic, keys, etc.).

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Explain: class projector, students’ completed Experiment Outline worksheets
from the Explore section, and paper on which students can complete their
exit ticket.
Elaborate: computers for each group of students, enough posters for each
group, markers/crayons/colored pencils, Magnets Research Rubric (one for
each student, page 10-11).
Evaluate: Strength of Magnets worksheet (one for each student, page 12).

SAFETY:
Students should be advised to take care not to pinch their fingers in between the
stronger magnets. If students use the hot plates, they should be cautioned against
burning themselves on the plates, the hot water, or the magnets as they’re heated.
Students should also be advised to be careful when dealing with glass beakers, so
as not to break them.
REQUISITE KNOWLEDGE AND SKILLS:
Students should already have a general understanding of magnets and magnetic
fields. They should already know that magnets always have a north and south pole,
and that like poles repel while opposite poles attract. Students should also be able
to design and create their own experiment.
MISCONCEPTIONS:
Magnets that students typically have interactions with everyday are often very
different than the magnets that are commonly used in educational circumstances.
The magnets generally used in the classroom are bar magnets that are split in half
based on the north and south poles. This can foster the misconception that
magnetic poles can only be distributed in that physical manner, and that the
magnetic field lines propagate out from the ends of all magnets, which is rarely the
case. This misconception will be addressed during the Engage section of the lesson,
where students can play around with various magnets and iron filings in order to
see the various types of field lines that arise.

ENGAGE:
Exploring Magnets: 20 minutes
The goal of this activity is to expose student’s prior knowledge about how a
magnet works, and will show if they harbor the above misconception. This
activity is also will get students thinking about different ways in which a
magnet’s strength can be affected.
TW:

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Have magnets for students to play around with on their tables. Ask
students to pay attention to how magnets work, and have them begin
thinking about the different factors that could affect their strength.
Lead a class discussion in which you ask students to list different
properties or ideas they know about magnets after they have had a
chance to discuss and explore in their table groups.
o Questions to ask: What do you know about magnets? How do they
work? Tell me about magnetic fields. What affects the strength of a
magnet? Could you make a magnet weaker than it already is?
Instruct students to continue exploring in their table groups by placing an
index card in a sealable plastic bag, with iron filings on top of the card
inside of the bag. The magnet can then be moved around outside of the
bag, and the index card should be in between the filings and the magnet.
This will allow students to see the magnetic field lines of the magnets
displayed by the filings on the index card. Each group should only choose
one magnet, and ensure that each group has chosen a different type of
magnet.
Use this time to bring the class back to a discussion about the various
field lines that they encountered in this activity. Each group should be able
to share the field line patterns of the type of magnet that they explored.
This gives you a chance to discuss and address the misconception that all
field lines are identical for every magnet.

SW:

Explore the magnets in their table groups, contribute to the large group
discussion about magnets and be attentive.
Each group of students will choose a different type of magnet to explore
with when doing the activity with the iron filings.

EXPLORE:
What Influences the Strength of Magnets?: 45 minutes
This activity asks students to design their own experiment in order to test the
different factors that affect the strengths of magnets. Each group of 3 will be
given a different factor to test, (each of the 4 factors will be tested by 2 groups)
and students must work together to come up with data to present on it. This is
meant to cover the first objective.
TW:

Instruct student to create their own experiment to discover how different
factors can affect the strength of a magnet. Assign one factor to each
group: temperature of magnet, type of magnet, distance the object is
form the magnet, material of the object being attracted.
o There should 2 groups investigating each factor. Therefore, there
will be 8 groups, each with 3 or 4 students (depending on class size)

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Give students the Experiment Outline worksheet (page 8-9) on which they
will be able to fill out the different parts of an experiment that they will
have to think about as they are designing. The worksheet has blank
spaces for the factor they are testing, their hypothesis, independent and
dependent variables, the control, the design of the experiment, and a
place to record their results.
o Make sure students understand that they do not have to go through
the worksheet in order, as science is not always done in one
particular order. However, they should have all of the sections filled
out by the time they are done experimenting.
There should be various magnets and materials available for students to
use at the discretion of their experiment. Examples are listed in the
materials section at the beginning of the lesson.
Walk among groups as they are working to guide them and answer any
questions they may have.
o Ask questions to prompt deeper thinking such as: “Why do you
think that?” “How would that affect the strength of a magnet?” “Are
there any other factors that could be influencing what you’re trying
to test?”

SW:


Work in groups to collect data about the factor that they were assigned.
Use the materials provided for them in a manner that helps them to
design their experiment and collect data.
Each student should complete their own worksheet, although each group
is working together to complete the experiment. Everyone will have to
turn in an experiment sheet.

EXPLAIN:
Presenting our Findings: 1 hour
This activity is designed to cover the second objective. Students are asked to
organize and analyze their data and present their findings to the class informally
and the teacher will facilitate a discussion throughout. The teacher will then
bring up an Education Resources website to explain magnetic domains (this is
the only new piece of vocabulary that will be introduced). This will cover the
second and third objectives.
TW:

Have groups present their findings in an informal manner to the class.
Each group will focus only on their results and data by putting one
Experiment Outline sheet up on the projector, and will not discuss the
conclusions that they reached based on the data (i.e. if they’re factor
influences the strength of a magnet).

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After each group presents, lead the class in a discussion of the results in
order to reach a conclusion about what their data shows in relation to
whether or not their factor affects the strength of a magnet, and how
much.
o Students should come to the conclusion that each of the assigned
factors do affect the strength of magnets, but that some do more
than others.
Once all groups have presented, and all data has been discussed, bring up
the below Education Resources website on the projector to explain
magnetic domains. These are a crucial part of how magnets function, and
how their strength is affected. The website has information describing
domains as well as a useful interactive picture. Simply explore the
information with students in another informal discussion.
o https://www.ndeed.org/EducationResources/HighSchool/Magnetism/magneticdomai
n.htm
Afterwards, students must complete an exit ticket separating the factors
that do and do not affect magnet strength as a formative assessment.
They may write this simply on a piece of paper, listing factors into “do”
and “do not” categories.
o Students should recognize on their exit ticket that all of the factors
tested by the groups that day would have an influence on the
strength of a magnet, and therefore be placed in the “do” category.
o Examples of factors that do not affect magnets could be anything
that would not have an effect: placing the magnet in a plastic bag,
putting a piece of paper in between the magnet and object,
painting the magnet, getting the magnet wet, etc.

SW:


Present their findings to the class in groups, students will present
informally, simply by standing in front of the class and placing their
experiment sheet on the document camera for everyone to see. Groups
should explain what their factor is, what they did to test it, and what they
observed.
o Students should NOT say “yes this factor affects the strength of
magnets or no it does not” – this is up to the class to decide as a
whole based upon their data.
Participate in class discussion
Complete the exit ticket

ELABORATE:

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Researching and Gallery Walk: 3 hours
The purpose of this activity is to have students do more research to determine
why the factors affect the strength of magnets, or do not. Each group will work
together to create a poster, and then the class will do a gallery walk of all the
finished products. This will cover the fourth objective.
TW:

Instruct students to do research to determine why their magnets might be
affected by the factors that they performed experiments on. For example,
why are some magnet types more attractive than others, or why do hot
magnets attract less than their room temperature counterparts?
Tell students that they will be working in the same groups they did their
experiment in, but each student should receive a Magnets Research
Rubric (page 10-11) on which to base their project and complete their
peer evaluation.
o Students will have laptops through which to do their research. At
this grade level, they should be able to look up information and find
credible sources on their own. However, the main component that is
affected by most of these factors are magnetic domains. If students
need more help in understanding what a magnetic domain is, the
Education Resources website used in the Explain section will be
listed on their handout.
Check each group’s information before they are allowed to begin putting
together their poster so that they do not misinform the class. Correct
information can be found summarized in the Science Background of this
lesson, or on the Strength of Magnets: Homework Answer Key (page 13).
Have students organize their information onto a poster – one per group.
The posters will then be placed around the classroom and all students will
be able to do a gallery walk of everyone’s posters. Students should be
encouraged to take notes on other posters.

SW:


Work together in their groups to research the why factors affect their
magnets. Each group will research the factor that they conducted their
experiment on.
Present their findings to the class in the form of a poster.
Gallery walk all other group’s posters, and take notes for reference later.

EVALUATE:
Strength of Magnets Homework:
This will be completed as homework, and will act as the summative assessment
of the lesson. This is meant to directly assess the fourth objective.

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TW:

Give student the Strength of Magnets worksheet (page 12) that will ask
them to list and describe the factors that affect a magnet. They must be
able to describe all factors, and not just the one they conducted the
experiment and research on. The worksheet will also ask students to
explain and draw why each factor affects a magnets ability to attract.

SW:

Complete the worksheet individually as homework.

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Assessment Alignment Table
Section of Lesson

Objective

Engage

Explore

1 Design an experiment to test the
factors affecting a magnet’s attraction
to an object.

2 Analyze and interpret data about the
factors influencing the strength of a
magnet.

Explain

3 Differentiate between factors that
affect the strength of a magnet and
ones that do not.
4 Explain why magnets are influenced
by certain factors.

Elaborate

Evaluate

Assessment
Students describe what they already know about
magnets in a class discussion, which informally
provides a diagnostic assessment for the
teacher.
Each student fills out the procedure they used to
do their experiment, and to records their data.
This acts as a formative assessment to show
that each student is on track with how their
factor should affect their magnet.
This section includes a class discussion in which
students present and analyze findings from the
experiments in Explore. This and the exit ticket
act as a formative assessment.

4 Explain why magnets are influenced
by certain factors.

Students can explain why magnets are affected
by the different factors through a project. This
serves as a formative assessment to ensure that
all understand each factor before moving onto
the summative assessment worksheet at the
end of the lesson.
The homework acts as a summative assessment,
ensuring that students understand and can
explain the factors discussed throughout the
lesson.

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Name:_______________________________

Experiment Outline
It is your job as a scientist to explore one factor and how it affects the
strength of a magnet. Work with your table group on creating an experiment
to test your assigned factor. Make sure outline your experiment below so
that I know how you got your results. When everyone is finished, each group
will present their data to the class (not their conclusions!) and we will have a
class discussion to determine if your factor really does mess with the
strength of a magnet. Don’t be afraid to ask me any questions along the way
- happy experimenting!

Factor being tested:

Hypothesis:

Independent variables:

Dependent variables:

Control:

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Steps taken during the experiment:

Results/Data/Observations:

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Magnets Research Rubric

Name:__________________-

______________
Your job is to research WHY the factor you tested has an influence on the strength of a magnet. Your group
will then create a poster with that information to teach the whole class about your factor.
Factor listed

Information

Picture

Websites

Participation

3 points
Factor that group tested is
listed on poster.
All information is accurate. (I
will check with your groups
before you all make your
poster to ensure that all
information is correct, so
everyone should get full
points here!)
Poster includes at least one
picture that helps conceptual
understanding.
At least 2 websites were used.
Websites used are listed at
the bottom of the poster, and
are credible.
When looking at the peer
evaluation, it appears that you
did an equal amount as your
group members.

2 points

Most of the information is
accurate.

Poster includes at least one
picture, but it does not help
conceptual understanding.
Only one website is used.
Website is listed at the
bottom of the poster, and is
credible.
When looking at the peer
evaluations, it appears that
you did less work than your
group members.

1 point
Factor that the group tested
is not listed.
The information is not
accurate.

Poster does not include any
pictures that help conceptual
understanding.
No websites were listed at
the bottom of the poster, so
it is unknown how many
websites were used or if they
are credible.
When looking at the peer
evaluations, it is obvious that
you did much less work than
your group members.

Below is the rubric that I will use to grade your projects. You will work in the same groups that you did in
the experiment, but each person will be getting a separate grade – since part of your grade is how well
you participate in your group! A place for Peer Evaluation is located on the back.

Peer Evaluation

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Below, list each of your group members (including yourself) and describe what each member contributed
to the project. Please be thorough and honest – this is how I will be grading each person’s participation!
Everyone should be working as a team and doing an equal amount of work.

1.
2.
3.

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Name:____________________________________

Strength of Magnets: Homework
List each of the 4 factors we discussed in class that alter the strength of a
magnet in the left column. In the middle column, describe HOW this factor
affects the strength of it – what is going on inside the magnet? In the
right column, draw a simple picture to help in your explanation.

Factor

Explanation

Drawing

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ANSWER KEY – 12 points (one point per box)

Strength of Magnets: Homework
List each of the 5 factors we discussed in class that alter the strength of a
magnet in the left column. In the middle column, describe HOW this factor
affects the strength of it – what is going on inside the magnet? In the right
column, draw a simple picture to help in your explanation.

Factor
Temperature
of magnet

Type of
magnet

Distance the
object is from
the magnet

Material of
the object
being
attracted

Explanation
If a magnet becomes too hot, it can
cause the domains to misalign.
Therefore, drastic changes in
temperature can cause certain types
of magnets to lose some of their
strength. In extreme enough
temperatures, they will demagnetize
completely.
Items made out of certain materials
(like iron, nickel, and cobalt) can be
permanently magnetized. These
materials have domains that can
become aligned to magnetize it.
Different types of magnets are made
of different materials that can have
different amounts of their domains
aligned. The more domains in a
magnet that are aligned, the stronger
the magnet.
In general, the farther an object is
away from a magnet, the less pull the
magnet has on it. This is because of
the magnet’s magnetic field. The
farther away you get from a magnet,
the weaker it’s field.

Not all materials are attracted to
magnets. In order for an object to be
attracted to a magnet, it must be
made out of a material that consists
of domains – specifically metals such
as iron, nickel, cobalt, and some rare
earth metals, or other magnets.

Drawing
Drawings will vary for
different students. This
section is mostly to
ensure that they are
thinking through their
explanations, and
understanding them
fully.

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SCIENTIFIC BACKGROUND
Magnets are materials that produce fields that attract or repel other
objects. The magnetic fields are caused by the rotation of electrically charged
particles, namely electrons. This is due to the fact that atoms can contain
unpaired electrons, who’s direction of spin determines the direction of the
magnetic field. All magnetic field sources have a north and south poles.
Opposite poles attract and like poles repel (much like the positive and
negative electrical charges), creating a doughnut shaped field, where the
field lines propagate outward from the poles from the north to the south.
Magnetic fields are always dipole, meaning there is always a north and a
south pole – they cannot be separated. Therefore, if you were to cut a
magnet in half, you would be left with two more magnets with a N and S pole.
A field line shows the direction of the magnetic field at different locations
around the magnet itself, and the spacing of the field lines indicates the
strength of the field – the closer the lines, the stronger the field and vice
versa. The direction of the field lines can be observed by using a compass
next to a magnet, and the pointer will always be tangent to the field lines

with the north pointing toward the south pole. If you take a piece of paper
with iron filings on it, and put a magnet beneath the paper, the iron filings will
align in a such a way that can demonstrate the spacing of the field lines. In
general, the closer to the poles, the closer the field lines (and therefore the
stronger the field) as pictured below.

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Objects made out of certain materials such as iron can be permanently
magnetized, which is called ferromagnetism and is the only form of
magnetism strong enough to be physically felt. Permanent magnets can only
occur when the movement of the unpaired elections continues to behave in a
way that creates magnetic field lines even without the application of an
outside magnetic field or electric current. Materials that have been found to
behave in this way are: iron, nickel, cobalt, and some rare earth metals.
Therefore, magnets are most commonly made out of alloys, such as
Aluminum-Nickel-Cobalt (Alnicos), Strontium-Iron (Ferrites/Ceramics), and the
rare earths Neodymium-Iron-Boron and Samarium-Cobalt.
A magnetic domain is the region in the magnet in which the atomic dipoles
are aligned to create the magnetic field. In a demagnetized object, all of the
domain’s fields are pointing in different directions, but if they are aligned, the object

Demagnetized Material

Magnetized Material

becomes magnetized. Therefore, rubbing an object of certain material (such as iron)
with a strong magnet can align the domains of that object and magnetize it.

These domains are always present in ferromagnetic materials because
of the way in which the individual atoms bond together to form the material
itself, but they are not always in their aligned and magnetized state. If the
material such as this is demagnetized, it can still be attracted to a magnet,
but it will not act as a magnet itself unless the domains are aligned.
Ferromagnetic materials can be magnetized by putting them in a strong
external magnetic field, or by running an electrical current through the
material. The more domains in the material that become aligned, the
stronger the magnetic field of the material becomes. The object is said to be
magnetically saturated when all of the domains are aligned, and when this

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occurs it has reached its maximum level of internal magnetization. These
domains can become “locked” in place, creating a permanent magnet unless
the magnet is acted upon by an outside force that exceeds the energy of the
domains.
Magnets may have different level of magnetic strength depending on
the material they are made out of, their temperature, physical damage to the
magnet, and its distance away from objects that they are trying to attract.
Different materials have different strengths, and can be more or less resistant
to the other abovementioned factors based on the material as well, as
exemplified by the below chart. Varying temperatures can have different
effects on the strength of the magnet depending on the material that it is
made of, and that material’s maximum operating temperature. The
maximum operating temperature of a magnet is called its Curie temperature,
and this is the point in which the electrons in the domains are no longer
aligned. Other drastic change in temperature effects the alignment of the
domains, thereby decreasing the magnet’s strength. Exposing the magnet to
another magnetic force (such as storing it next to other magnets improperly)
or extreme physical abuse can have similar demagnetizing effects for much
the same reasons – it can cause misalignment of the magnetic domains.
Also, the further away a magnet is from an object, the less attracted it is
going to be to the object.
Material

Resistance to

Curie

Neodymium Iron Boron (Nd-

Demagnetization
Very high

Temperature
200 C

Fe-B)
Samarium Cobalt (Sm-C)
Very high
Alnico
Low
Bonded Nd-Fe-B
High
Ceramic (Hard Ferrite)
Moderate
Table is modified from an existing table at (Cheng, 2014)

300-350 C
550 C
150 C
300 C

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References
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Lose Strength or Demagnetize. Retrieved from Adams Magnetic Products:
http://www.adamsmagnetic.com/blogs/2012/factors-which-cause-permanentmagnets-to-lose-strength-or-to-demagnetize/
Cheng, V. (2014, September 29). 8 Factors Affecting Magnetic Force of Permanent
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https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20140929033226-236383994-8-factors-toaffect-the-magnetic-force-of-permanent-magnet
Frequently Asked Questions. (2000). Retrieved from Magnet Sales & Manufacturing
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https://www.khanacademy.org/science/physics/magnetic-forces-andmagnetic-fields/magnets-magnetic/v/introduction-to-magnetism
Kurtus, R. (2013, Janurary 29). Basics of Magnetism. Retrieved from School for
Champions: http://www.school-forchampions.com/science/magnetism.htm#.VtjyMNDJV9N
Lucas, J. (2015, July 28). What is Magnetism? Magnetic Fields & Magnetic Force.
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Magnetic Domain. (n.d.). Retrieved from NDT Resource Center: https://www.ndeed.org/EducationResources/HighSchool/Magnetism/magneticdomain.htm
Magnetic Domains. (n.d.). Retrieved from NDT Resource Center: https://www.ndeed.org/EducationResources/CommunityCollege/MagParticle/Physics/Magnetic
Domains.htm
Olson, M. (2013). The Physics Teacher. Common Magnets, Unexpected Polarities, 13.
Staff, S. B. (2016, February 22). How the Strength of a Magnet Varies with
Temperature. Retrieved from Science Buddies:
http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fairprojects/project_ideas/Phys_p025.shtml#summary

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