What can magnets do?
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DISCUSS (1 of 3):

What are some of the things you observed?

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DISCUSS (2 of 3):

Was there anything that surprised you?

Why did that surprise you?

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DISCUSS (3 of 3):

What are two or three questions you have about magnets that no one in your class knows the answer to?

Can you think of experiments that would help answer your questions?

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Demo: Once a paperclip touches a magnet and becomes a magnet itself, does a paperclip STAY that way? Or does it stop being a magnet?

Try it! (Your teacher can demonstrate this.)

Reveal answer

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Discuss: What do you think you could do with magnets that would be interesting?

There are so many possibilities. Here’s one I like: the magnetic sweeper I used in the parking lot to collect nails and sharp objects so they wouldn’t puncture holes in tires.

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For this Anchor Connection, each student will need one copy of The Biggest Magnet in the World reading.

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StormySkiesM1Connection1

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StormySkiesM4Connection2

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StormySkiesM4Connection3

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Extensions

Below are ideas for extending this topic beyond the activity & Exploration you just completed.
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Image & Video Credits

Mystery Science respects the intellectual property rights of the owners of visual assets. We make every effort to use images and videos under appropriate licenses from the owner or by reaching out to the owner to get explicit permission. If you are the owner of a visual and believe we are using it without permission, please contact us—we will reply promptly and make things right.

Exploration
globe by Celestia , used under CC BY
sandals by luntblog , used under CC BY
Lefka Ori mountain range by Miguel Virkkunen Carvalho , used under CC BY
nails by Andrva , used under CC BY-SA
magnet rocks by Roke , used under CC BY-SA
skyline with screws by Simon Hadleigh-Sparks , used under CC BY
Or Venezuela by Didier Descouens , used under CC BY-SA
mineral copper by Daniel Stucht , used under CC BY-SA
silver by United States Geological Survey & Mineral Information Institute
iron by Siim Sepp , used under CC BY-SA
paperclip by Brandon Baunach , used under CC BY
powder steel by Aney , used under CC BY-SA
powder steel on magnet by Aney , used under CC BY-SA
silly putty by Childhood 101 , used under CC BY
100lbs of magnetic putty by Vat19.com , used under CC BY
saftey Ink by Chris Lott , used under CC BY
ferrofluid in a bottle by Vat19.com
train by Max Talbot-Minkin , used under CC BY
dancing clip by kinchangnoodle , used under CC BY
Activity
horseshoe by Ajcann , used under CC BY-SA
bar magnet by Aney , used under CC BY-SA
Print Prep
Activity Prep

In this Mystery, students will explore the surprising properties of magnets and experiment with an invisible force that acts at a distance. In the activity, Magnet Discovery, students use ring magnets and common objects to discover the push and pull of magnets and how magnets attract certain types of metals.

Preview activity

Number of students:
Magnetic Metal Items
Paper clips, staples, nails, washers, binder clips, metal bottle caps, stainless steel flatware, or anything else made of iron or steel.
Details
1 item per student
Non-Magnetic Metal Items
Pennies, quarters, dimes, nickels, the metal band on the end of a pencil, aluminum cans, or anything else made of aluminum, copper, silver, or gold.
Details
1 item per student
Non-Metal Items
Anything made of plastic, wood, glass, or paper. You can even try food items!
Details
1 item per student
Pencil
1 pencil per student
Index Cards (3x5)
2 cards per student
Paper Clips
2 clips per student
Thread
You can also use string or light ribbon.
Details
1 feet per student
Ring Magnets
2 magnets per student
Ideas for Magnet Experiments printout 1 per student
Magnets Are Weird printout 1 per student
Prep Instructions

Set Up Magnet Test Items

The test items should include some metals that are attracted to magnets, some metals that are not, and some non-metal items. At a minimum, students should examine one item from each of these categories. You may want to set up a test item station so that students can explore multiple items from each category.

Teacher Tip

Magnets are fragile, so be careful. If you smack them against each other too hard, they will break. We trust you’ll be gentle with them, but just in case, it can’t hurt to wear safety goggles.

Extensions
Download this Mystery to your device so you can play it offline: