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TEKS Objective

Students will classify matter based on physical properties including: mass, magnetism, physical state (solid, liquid and gas), relative density (sinking and floating), and solubility in water, and the ability to conduct or insulate thermal energy or electric energy.

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Essential Understanding

The student knows that (1) matter has measurable physical properties and (2) those properties determine how matter is classified, changed and used.

Science Background

Teaching About Magnetism: Lab for Extraterrestrial Physics NASA (website) - Presentation on the basics of magnetism by David P. Stern, Emeritus, Goddard Space Flight Center.

Teaching About Magnetism
by David P. Stern, Emeritus, Goddard Space Flight Center,

About Magnets: Dowling Magnets (website) - This commercial site provides facts about magnetism and answers a variety of questions, ranging from What is a magnet? to How magnets are made?

About Magnets
Dowling Magnets,

Factors Determining Magnetic Properties: School of Champions (website) - Summary explanation of the factors—such as the orientation of electrons, atoms and molecules—that dictate the magnetic properties of different materials.

Factors Determining Magnetic Properties
School of Champions,

Signature Lesson

Lesson Plan for Basic Magnetism: Salt River Project (PDF) - Students investigate and learn about magnets, polarity and magnetism, discuss the properties of magnets, and classify objects as being magnetic or non-magnetic.

Lesson Plan for Basic Magnetism
Salt River Project,

Supporting Lessons

Magnetic Pick-ups: Science NetLinks (website) - Students learn that certain materials are attracted to magnets, while others are not.

Magnetic Pick-ups
Science Netlinks,
Magnets: My Schoolhouse (website) - Elementary explanation of magnetism, with interactive worksheet.

My Schoolhouse,

Elaboration Lessons and Extensions

How Strong is Your Magnet? Science NetLinks (website) - Students measure the strength of a magnet and graph changes in the strength of attraction as distance from the magnet increases, and as a barrier (masking tape) is built between the magnet and an iron object.

How Strong is Your Magnet?
Science NetLinks,

Assessment Ideas

Have students record everything they know about magnets before they begin the unit and again upon completion.

As an extension or alternate assessment, give each student a set of objects and have students sort the objects into two piles: magnetic and non-magnetic. Then give each student a magnet with which to test his/her predictions.

Literature Connections

Magnetic & Non-Magnetic. Royston, Angela (ISBN 13: 978-0431138343)

Magnetism: A Question and Answer Book. Richardson, Adele (ISBN 13: 978-1429602259)

Related Science TEKS

(5.1A) Science Safety
The student is expected to demonstrate safe practices and the use of safety equipment as described in the Texas Safety Standards during classroom and outdoor investigations.

(5.2A) Design/Conduct Experiment with One Variable
The student is expected to describe, plan, and implement simple experimental investigations testing one variable.

(5.2B) Ask Questions, Formulate a Hypothesis
The student is expected to ask well-defined questions, formulate testable hypotheses, and select and use appropriate equipment and technology.

(5.2C) Collect Data
The student is expected to collect information by detailed observations and accurate measuring.

(5.2D) Analyze Evidence and Explain
The student is expected to analyze and interpret information to construct reasonable explanations from direct (observable) and indirect (inferred) evidence.

(5.2E) Value of Repeated Experiments
The student is expected to demonstrate that repeated investigations may increase the reliability of results.

(5.2F) Communicate Conclusions
The student is expected to communicate valid conclusions in both written and verbal forms.

(5.2G) Graphs, Tables, Charts
The student is expected to construct appropriate simple graphs, tables, maps, and charts using technology, including computers, to organize, examine, and evaluate information.

(5.4A) Tools for Collecting and Analyzing Information
The student is expected to collect, record, and analyze information using tools, including calculators, microscopes, cameras, computers, hand lenses, metric rulers, Celsius thermometers, prisms, mirrors, pan balances, triple beam balances, spring scales, graduated cylinders, beakers, hot plates, meter sticks, magnets, collecting nets, and notebooks; timing devices, including clocks and stopwatches; and materials to support observations of habitats or organisms such as terrariums and aquariums.

(5.5C) Mixtures
The student is expected to demonstrate that some mixtures maintain physical properties of their ingredients such as iron filings and sand.

Related Math TEKS

(5.5A)  The student is expected to describe the relationship between sets of data in graphic organizers such as lists, tables, charts, and diagrams.

Additional Resources

Magnetism: NDT Resource Center (website) - This tutorial will refresh your memory on magnetism. It is organized into sequenced headings, each containing interactive simulations and reflective questions.

NDT Resource Center,

Characteristics of Matter: QUIA (website) - The Quintessential Instructional Archive site contains online science activities, including an online “hangman” game with clues about properties of matter. Elementary, and some secondary, vocabulary words are included in the game. This activity could be used for review, as a center for independent student work, or for differentiated groups.

Characteristics of Matter
by Jessica B. and Cody M., Quintessential Instructional Archive,

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Nancy Moreno

I love teaching about magnets. This worked for me.

August 19, 2011, 9:36 AM
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