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The Attraction of Magnets Mark as Favorite (0 Favorites)

ACTIVITY in Physical Properties. Last updated March 25, 2020.


In this activity, students will be able to investigate the physical property of magnetism and determine that magnets have the ability to attract and repel some objects while pushing and pulling “race cars” around a track.

Grade Level

Elementary School


By the end of this activity, students should be able to

  • Describe the function of a magnet.
  • Indicate magnetism as a physical property that is present in certain objects.
  • Identify how magnets are used in the real word.

Chemistry Physical Properties

This activity supports students’ understanding of

  • Physical Properties
  • Magnets


Teacher Preparation: 15 minutes

Lesson: Three 20 minute meetings

Materials (Per student)

Per Student:

  • Race car picture printed on cardstock
  • A magnet
  • Metal jumbo paperclip
  • Cardstock for race track
  • Markers
  • Notecards


  • Students should not put objects in their mouth.
  • Keep magnets away from computers.

Teacher Notes

  • The teacher should have an understanding of the vocabulary used in this activity:
  • Write the vocabulary word on a notecard, and the meaning on the opposite side for students to use on day 1 of the activity.
  • Print out racecar pictures on cardstock.
  • For younger grades, you might want to provide sample tracks for them and model how to guide the racecar along the track. Older students can design their own track to use.
  • This is book all about magnets that you can print out and read to students to introduce the lesson if you don’t have access to the books listed below. There is also a place in the book to list where you can find magnets at home, in the neighborhood, outside, or in the classroom.
  • Magnet: An object that has the ability to attract other objects by producing a magnetic field.
  • Attract: To pull toward something.
  • Repel: To push away from something.
  • This is great game that can reinforce what students have learned. As well as a prediction page that can be used.
  • This is a cut and paste activity that students can do individually to check for understanding.
  • Here is a picture sort activity that you can use after the lesson to see what the students learned.
  • Note that the activity is split into three days of 20 minutes per day, however this could all be completed during 1 day if preferred.
  • Day 1 Learning Objective: Magnet vocabulary
    • Show the Video introduction to magnets. You might have to read certain parts of the video for younger students.
    • Split the students up into three groups. One for magnet, one for attract and one for repel.
    • Give each small group one of the vocabulary notecards. Each group will become an expert scientist on that vocabulary term. Then each will share their knowledge of the vocabulary word or act out their vocabulary term.
    • After each group has had a chance to explain or act out their vocabulary term, allow students to play with the magnets so they can feel them attract and repel. You may want to provide an assortment of objects for students to investigate.
  • Day 2 Learning Objective: Make your racecar move!
    • Review the vocabulary words that were learned in the previous day. Tell students that they are going to be making a paper racecar move today without out touching it with their hands.
    • Pass out a paper racecar to each student. Allow them to decorate them and cut them out.
    • Attach the paperclip on the racecar.
    • If you have older students allow them time to draw a race track. If you have younger students, distribute the premade race tracks (examples shown below).
    • Place tracks on student desks. Then put the racecar at the start of the track (it will lay flat on the track, not upright).
    • The student will use the magnet under the desk to drag their racecar along the track using magnetic force. As you move the magnet, the racecar should move too. Once students have followed their own track a few times, allow them to switch seats with others at their table to try other tracks.
    • Extension (optional): tape a bar magnet to the racecars then use another magnet to “push” the racecar through the track using alike poles. Note: The magnet will not be under the desk this time. It will be on top with the racecar.
    • Whole group: Discuss as a class whose tracks were the easiest (straight path), and whose were the most difficult (winding path). Why were they easier? Why were they harder?
    • Ask the group, how are magnets used in everyday life? (If students are unable to answer, show this video then ask students after to give examples.)
    • Have students draw one way that they saw magnets being used in the real world.
  • Day 3 Wrap Up/ De- Brief:
    • What made the racecar move? The magnet and its attraction to the paperclip attached to the racecar.
    • What types of materials would attract magnets? What things are made of these materials? Iron and steel. Answers may vary. Some examples may be: paperclips, refrigerators, etc.
    • What is attracted to a magnet- a paper clip or a rubber band? Paper clip
    • Explain how a push can be used to move an object and to change its location?
    • Name one way that magnets are used outside of the classroom.
    • Sample tracks for the racecars.
    • Sample tracks:
    Attraction of magnets