Forces and Motion | Electricity and Magnetism

Exploring magnetic poles

Classroom Activity for 5-11 Supporting Physics Teaching

What the Activity is for

Poles: more than coloured ends.

Most school magnets have brightly coloured poles, often red and blue, sometimes red and black.

Here children are exploring how these marked poles affect each other.

What to Prepare

  • a pair of bar magnets with coloured poles

What Happens During this Activity

Ask the children to investigate what happens when the colours are brought together. Red to red, blue to blue, red to blue and so on.

Encourage them to be systematic and to record their results in such a way that it'll be possible to check that the different groups agree. You might like to prepare a large shared chart on which all results can be recorded. Matters of public agreement and record are important in the sciences, and this is a good opportunity to establish that.

Suggest that children extract and express a pattern from their results. This is an important process in the sciences: trying for general rules that you hope will work everywhere from only a few experimental results.

If possible, extend the findings by checking with differently shaped magnets, perhaps with the poles not painted.

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