Outreach Workshop: Magnetism
Use magnets to perform tasks and learn basic magnet vocabulary. Explore how magnets work and how we use them in our daily lives.
Fees are determined by distance from the Museum:
- Within 25 miles: $340
- 26-50 miles: $370
- 51+ miles: $370 + $.54 per mile
- Each additional hour: $125
Michigan K-12 Science Standards
Ask questions to determine cause and effect relationships of electric or magnetic interactions between two objects not in contact with each other.
Define a simple design problem that can be solved by applying scientific ideas about magnets.
Magnetism Pre-visit Vocabulary
Aluminum: A light, silver-white, metal that is not magnetic.
Attract: A pulling force.
Copper: A reddish brown metal that is not magnetic.
Core: The center of the earth, composed of iron and nickel.
Ferromagnetic: Any metal that is attracted to magnets.
Iron: A hard, silvery-gray, magnetic metal, found in rocks and in red blood cells.
Magnet: A solid object that attracts certain metals, for example iron or steel.
Magnetic: Ability to attract certain metals.
Nickel: A hard, silvery-white magnetic metal found in rocks and meteorites.
Non-magnetic: An object that does not attract metals.
Poles: Opposite ends of a magnet.
Repel: A pushing force.
Magnetism Post-visit Activity
Post-visit activities provide your students with an opportunity to review workshop-presented concepts and introduce related subjects. Below you will find a classroom extension activity and a list of suggested resources for further exploration. We hope that you enjoyed our Outreach Hands-On Workshop and we look forward to visiting your students again!
Hands-on Activity: Make a Compass
- Steel sewing needles (if you have a sufficiently strong magnet, you can use a small paperclip)
- Bar magnets
- Shallow plastic containers
- Dish soap
- Thin slices of cork (available in sheets at hardware or building supply stores)
- Rub the bar magnet across the needle at least 30 times in one direction only. Start at the hole end and rub towards the point end.
- Fill the container with water and place a drop of dish soap in the center.
- Lay the needle across the center of the cork. Attach with tape.
- Float the cork slice in the center of the container.
- Spin it very gently if necessary. When it stops, it should point north.
- Hold the bar magnet near the needle, but not touching. Rotate the bar magnet and see what happens to the compass.
A compass is a tool used to find directions. It can help people figure out which way to go when they are traveling.
By rubbing the needle with the bar magnet, you made the needle a temporary magnet. By floating it in the water, you created a compass. A compass is a free-floating magnet.
Planet Earth acts like a huge weak bar magnet. It has a magnetic field around it and it has a North and South Pole. The needle of a compass always points toward magnetic north.
Activities for Kids. Learning Triangle Press, McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. 1997.
Fowler, Allan. What Magnets Can Do. Children’s Press, Chicago, IL. 1995.
Rowe, Julian and Molly Perham. Amazing Magnets. Children’s Press, Chicago, IL. 1994.
Science Made Simple Grades 1–6. Frank Schaffer Productions, CA. 1997.
Tolman, Marvin N. Hands-On Physical Science Activities for Grades 2–8. Parker Publishing Company, Inc., NY. 1995.
Vecchione, Glen. Magnet Science. Sterling Publishing Co., Inc, NY. 1995.
Wood, Robert W. Electricity and Magnetism FUNdamentals: Funtastic Science Activities for Kids. Learning Triangle Press, McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. 1997.