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Age Range: 7-11
Duration: 30-59 mins
  • D & T
  • Science

Magnetic forces STEM activity

Creating designs for novel products using magnets

Magnets can be used to attract or repel each other, which makes them incredibly useful for use in products. Examples include fridge magnets, door locks and even hoverboards. Can you design a new product that uses magnets in an interesting way?

In this fun STEM activity students will learn about how magnets can be used to attract or repel each other. They will use their knowledge of how they work to identify and sketch design ideas for two novel products that make use of magnets and magnetism.

This resource is a great way for KS2 students to learn all about magnets and could be used as a one-off activity or as part of a wider unit of work focusing on magnets and magnetism. It can also be used in conjunction with other IET Education resources, developed alongside the School of Engineering at Cardiff University.

Activity: Magnetic forces STEM activity

This is one of a set of resources developed to support the teaching of the primary national curriculum. They are designed to support the delivery of key topics within science and design and technology. This resource focuses on identifying and sketching design ideas for innovative products that make use of magnets.

This activity could be completed as individuals or in small groups.

The slides in the presentation below can be modified depending on the prior knowledge of learners. They could be used as a brief recap or as a larger introduction to magnets and how they work.

Learners should carefully consider how each of their designs use magnets to make it work. Encourage them to be creative!

This activity will take approximately 40-60 minutes to complete.

Tools/resources required

Parts and components:

  • Bar magnets with N and S poles marked
  • Modelling materials (for extension activity)

Tools and equipment:

  • Pencils, pens and sketching equipment
  • CAD software (for extension activity)
  • Modelling tools and equipment (for extension activity)

Magnetic forces

Magnets are made from materials such as iron and nickel and they have a north pole and a south pole.

When the north pole of a magnet is placed near the south pole of another magnet, they will attract each other. When two poles that are the same are placed near each other, they will repel each other. For example, north to north and south to south.

The engineering context

Engineers need to know the properties of magnets, which materials are magnetic and which materials are non-magnetic. This knowledge could be used when identifying and creating potential solutions to future engineering problems. For example, when developing green transport solutions.

Suggested learning outcomes

By the end of this activity students will be able to describe magnets as having two poles, they will understand how magnets attract or repel each other and they will be able to identify and design ideas for products that make use of magnets.

Download the free Magnetic forces STEM activity sheet below!

All activity sheets, worksheets and supporting resources are free to download, and all the documents are fully editable, so you can tailor them to your students’ and your schools’ needs.

The activity sheet includes teacher notes, guidance, useful web links, and links (where appropriate) to the national curriculum in each of the four devolved UK nations; England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Please share your classroom learning highlights with us @IETeducation.

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