Overview of Section Resources

Section 1: What Is a Magnet?
Students begin their investigation of magnets by exploring what magnets are and what materials magnets attract. Students also learn that magnets work by exerting forces on magnetic objects.
Section 2: Magnet Strength
Students explore the strength of magnets and magnet interactions. Through experimentation, they discover that the strengths of different types of magnets vary and that differences in strength determine the amount of magnetic material a magnet can pick up and the distance over which magnetic forces act.
Section 3: Magnetic Poles
Students learn that magnetic forces are strongest at a magnet's poles. Then, through experimentation, students identify the location of the poles in several different magnets. Students also learn that like poles repel and unlike poles attract.
Section 4: Magnetic Fields
Students learn that magnetism is a force that can act over a distance and that the area over which this force acts is known as the magnet's magnetic field. Using iron filings, students observe where the magnetic fields of different types of magnets are located and how these fields change when magnets attract and repel other magnets.
Section 5: Making a Temporary Magnet
Students find out what makes a material magnetic. They also learn that some materials are permanent magnets while others are only temporary. Students explore this concept when they use a permanent magnet to turn a nail into a temporary magnet. Students then experiment to find out how an important variable affects the strength of their temporary magnet.
Section 6: Making a Compass
Students examine compasses and how they work. As part of the discussion, students learn that a compass contains a magnet (the needle) that responds to Earth's magnetic field. Students then build and use their own compasses.
Section 7: Magnets and Electricity
Students explore the relationship between electricity and magnetism. Through investigation, students observe that electricity moving through a wire generates a magnetic field around the wire. Students then build a working model of an electromagnet. Students use the model to explore how the strength of an electromagnet can be changed by altering the number of coils of wire wrapped around an iron core and by changing the size of the core.