Forces and Motion | Electricity and Magnetism

Magnet strength and action at a distance

Classroom Activity for 5-11 Supporting Physics Teaching

What the Activity is for

This is a simple exploration of the reduction of the magnetic force with distance.

What to Prepare

  • a bar magnet
  • a paper clip
  • several sheets of paper or card

What Happens During this Activity

Ask the children to use a magnet to pick up a paper clip. Then see how many pieces of paper or card can be inserted between the clip and the magnet before it no longer picks it up. You'll need to try this out beforehand with your magnets to see if paper or card is better.

This is an opportunity to develop investigative skills: designing, recording, and reporting.

As an extension ask the students to compare and contrast:

Teacher: Magnetism seems to work through the paper. How is this similar to gravity? How is it different to gravity?

can be analysed using Magnetic Field
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