Many younger pupils expect all metals to be attracted by magnets and think that the size of the magnet dictates its strength.

Electricity and Magnetism


Diagnostic Resources

Resources to Address This

  • Which are magnetic?  (11-14)

    Source - SPT/ Em01 TL02

    The classification of materials into electrical conductors and insulators in primary school suggests to children that metals are special when it comes to electricity. It is not therefore surprising that the same classification is transferred in children's thinking to the topic of magnetism. Metals are expected to be magnetic and non metals are expected to be non-magnetic.

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The following studies have documented this misconception:

  • Bailey, J.; Francis, R. and Hill, D. () Exploring ideas about magnets. Research in Science Education 17 (1),


    Review sheet

  • Van Hook, S. J. and Huziak-Clark, T. L. () Tip-to-Tail: Developing a Conceptual Model of Magnetism with Kindergartners Using Inquiry-Based Instruction. Journal of Elementary Science Education, 19 (2),


    Review sheet

  • Hickey, R. and Schibeci, R. A. () The attraction of magnetism. Physics Education, 34 (6),


    Review sheet

  • Finley, F. N. () Evaluating instruction: The complementary use of clinical interviews. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 23 (17),


    Review sheet

IOP DOMAINS Physics CPD programme

Electricity CPD videos

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