These resources have been reviewed and selected by STEM Learning’s team of education specialists for factual accuracy and relevance to teaching STEM subjects in UK schools.

Compasses and Magnetism

This resource, from the Royal Observatory Greenwich, explores magnetism and how it is used in a compass. It is aimed at key stage 2, but the activities would also be suitable for introducing magnetism to key stage 3.

After a short introductory video there are a series of three activities:

Activity 1: Magnetic Materials

Suggested ideas and suitable questions to compare magnetic and non-magnetic materials.

You will need: tray of magnetic and non-magnetic objects, bar magnets e.g., scissors, cutlery, iron nail, metal keyrings, different coins.

Activity 2: Attraction and Repulsion

Students explore the difference between attraction and repulsion.

You will need: a pair of bar magnets for each pair or group of students.

Activity 3: Making a Magnetic Compass

Students build their own compass.

You will need:

  • Method 1: Large dish or bowl filled will water, large needle, cork, bar magnet or rare earth metal magnet e.g. neodymium (stronger magnets work better).
  • Method 2: Large clear plastic cup or glass jar, pencil, needle, thread, bar magnet or rare earth metal magnet e.g. neodymium (stronger magnets work better).

Students could make further links to the importance of magnetism for the Earth by watching the video, or by completing follow-on activities, such as this short magnetic meteorites activity.

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Lists that tag this content

Year 5: Forces, POSTED BY
Magnetism, POSTED BY