MnSTEP Teaching Activity Collection > MnSTEP Activities > Magnets: What "sticks"

Magnets: What "sticks"

John Mettling
Pine City Elementary
Pine City, MN
Author Profile


As an introductory activity to a unit on magnetism, students will explore what does and does not "stick" to a manget. Students will work in small groups and share their findings with the entire class as a follow-up.

Learning Goals

Students will determine what groups of materials are attracted to the magnet. Students will determine that not all metals are attracted to a magnet.

Key Concepts:
- Only objects made of metal stick to magnets.
- Not all objects made of metal stick.

Context for Use

This is a discovery lab activity for grade 2 students in a traditional classroom setting. This activity should take 20-30 minutes. Students should be familiar with working within a cooperative group. This activity should be adaptable to any setting where a variety of objects/materials are available.

Subject: Physics:Electricity & Magnetism
Resource Type: Activities:Lab Activity
Grade Level: Primary (K-2)

Description and Teaching Materials

Introduce lesson with a short discussion to determine students' familiarity with magnets. It is assumed that all students have had some previous exposure to magnets. Inform students to avoid using the magnets near the computers and other electronic equipment.

Materials: magnets (one per group)
a collection of various small objects
science journals and pencils
paper for recording results

Students will work together in small groups to determine what objects stick to a magnet. As each item is checked, the recorder will add that item to the list as either "sticks" or "doesn't stick"

When students have had enough time to collect data a reporter from each group will share their findings. As a wrap-up to the lesson conduct a discussion about what was common to all objects that "stuck" to a magnet.

Teaching Notes and Tips

Another format for this activity would be to allow the students to move around the room and try different things in the classroom and then record those on the large paper.

In the past I did not have students working in groups but rather let each student individually explore with a magnet.


I would use the charts that each group turns in to determine if the students are making good use of their time and developing an understanding of the concepts.


2.II.A.1-sorting/classifying objects

References and Resources