A Second Grade Science Project - January 1998



Judy Grogan, Second Grade Teacher,Putnam Valley Elementary School and
Karen Sager, Teacher-Librarian, Buchanan-Verplanck Elementary School

Last updated: October 25, 2022


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This project was developed through a technology grant from NYNEX which provided us with training. We chose a unit on magnets for second grade. The project supports the Science 21 curriculum which emphasizes student directed investigations that are related to their everyday lives. Science 21 also integrates math, language arts and technology where possible.This project is designed around a series of lessons on the magnet. The basis for the lessons is a sequence of exploratory activities where the students will discover the basic concepts of magnets. Part of the exploration process will have students use internet sites to validate their findings on this subject.


1. What is a magnet?

2. How do magnets work?

3. How do I use a magnet in my everyday world?


Information Literacy Standards for Student Learning
The information literate student is described in nine standards. The student uses information effectively, is an independent learner and is socially responsible.

National Science Education Standards: Science as Inquiry (Science Content K-4)
The standards describe skills students should develop in "Science as Inquiry." Content Standard B under Physical Science specifically states students should have an understanding of light, heat, electricity and magnetism.

New York State Learning Standards: Math, Science, Technology

EVALUATION: Students will record in their journals their observations, relate to their classmates what they have learned or, working in small groups, a spokesperson will report what the small group has discovered. A science rubric will be used throughout the unit to determine if they have learned the desired objectives, work skills and strategies for problem solving. Evaluation in the Science 21 curriculum places an emphasis on constructivist theories of learning. Students are actively involved in the learning process and are assessed by demonstrating what they know through performance tasks, written and oral communication.

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Science 21 BOCES. Magnets. September 1997. Online. Oct. 16, 1999.

Calvert County Public Schools. Magnets Unit Plan Grade 2. May 15, 1996. Online. Oct. 16, 1999.

Canada Schoolnet. The Electric Club. 1995. Online. Oct. 16, 1998.

The following five URL's are from Canada Schoolnet. Unique features include the following:

Magnetic Current : Can Electric Current Act Like a Magnet
In this activity one discovers how a compass is like a magnet.

Make an Electromagnet: How Can You Make An Electromagnet Stronger?
A good history of electromagnet experimenters is given in the "Connections" option. The experiment demonstrates how to increase the strength of an electromagnet in order to lift heavy objects.

The Electric Club Activities Handbook
This electric club handbook has 37 experiments and other information that can be used in the classroom.

IPPEX Interactive Physics Modules: Electricity and Magnetism
This site requires "Shockwave" Plug-in which can be downloaded form the Macromedia Web Site. It introduces you to many of the basic concepts involved with electricity and magnetism.

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Teacher/Student Sites:
Utah State Office of Education, Elementary Science Teacher Resource Book. Magnets. Jan. 27, 1997. Online. Oct. 16, 1998.

The following sites from UtahLINK give an excellent overview of this topic for teachers and simple experiments for students:

Magnets, a Background (UtahLINK)

Magnetic Attraction (UtahLINK)
LeapFrog (UtahLINK)
Paper Clip Walk (UtahLINK)
Don't Get Wet (UtahLINK)
Physical Characteristics of Magnets (UtahLINK)
Magnetic Pick-Up (UtahLINK)
Magnets, Magnets Everywhere (UtahLINK)

Great Explorations in Math and Science (Lawrence Hall of Science)

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Student Sites:
Calvert County Public Schools. Magnets. May 15, 1996. Online. Oct. 16, 1999.
The following instructional activities are for students to do with teacher guidance:

A Paper Clip Kite (Calvertnet)

Magnet Experiment Ideas (Calvertnet)

Demonstrating Magnetic Fields (Calvertnet)

Make a Magnetic Compass (Calvertnet)

Magnet Problems (Calvertnet)

Magnet Test (Calvertnet)

Magnetic True or False (Calvertnet)

Make a Magnet (Calvertnet)

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Ask an Expert:
Frank Harris of Elon College, North Carolina, is our expert. Online
October 22, 1999.
Teachers, students and parents can use this site to ask Mr. Harris questions about magnets.

Parent Sites:
Florida State University. National High Magnetic Field Laboratory. Try at Home. Online
Oct. 17, 1998.
The following sites are magnet activities for parents to do with their children:

Magnet Art (NHMFL)

Be a Magnetic Detective! (NHMFL)

How to Build Your Own Magnetic Levitation Train (NHMFL)

Viewing a Magnetic Field (NHMFL)

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The following books have recently been reviewed and annotated by us and found to be appropriate for teachers and/or students at the second grade level.


Adler, David. Amazing Magnets. Troll Associates, 1983.
This question and answer book provides basic information on magnets and magnetism.

Amery. H. & A. Littler. The Know How Book of Batteries and Magnets: Safe and Simple Experiments. Education Development, 1997.

Ardley, Neil. Science Book of Magnets. HBJ, 1991.
Basic principle of magnetism are demonstrated by simple experiments. Color photographs and a simple text encourages participation by the reader. A warning symbol indicates what steps call for adult supervision.

Baker, Wendy and Andrew Haslam. Electricity. Make it Work (Series.) Scholastic Inc., 1995.
Six chapters cover six different projects with magnets. Glossary and Index

Bancroft, Gloria. Amazing Magnets. Wright Group Publishing, Inc., 1998.
Color photographs show objects that are attracted or repelled by magnets.

Branley, Franklyn M. What Makes a Magnet? Harper Collins, 1996. A "Let's Read and Find Out" Science Book, Stage 2.
A little mouse leads the reader through the basic principles of magnetism.

Cash, Terry and Barbara Taylor. Electricity and Magnets. Warwick Press, 1989.
Symbols are used to indicate the three kinds of activities in the book: experiments, things to make or tricks. Three of the seven chapters specifically discuss magnets. Index

Cash, Terry, Steve Parker and Barbara Taylor. 175 More Science Experiments to Amuse and Amaze Your Friends. Random House, 1990.
Under the topic of electricity, one will find material on "Magic Magnets," "Magnetic Forces," and "Making Magnets with Electricity." There is also a one page Electricity and Magnets Quiz. Glossary and Index

Challand, Helen. Experiments With Magnets. Childrens Press, 1986.
In addition to simple experiments there is a short glossary and an index.

Christianson, Cindy. Magnets: Early Childhood. Teacher Created Materials, Inc., 1994.
Specifically directed toward the instructor. The five magnet sections are: What is Magnetism? How Strong Are Magnets? What is a Magnetic Field? Will it Attract or Repel? What are Some Uses of Magnets? Additional sections are Curriculum Connections and Management Tools. Glossary and Bibliography

Cowan, Judith. Magnets. Wright Group Publishing, Inc., 1996.
Color photographs and simple text show many uses of magnets.

Fowler, Allan. What Magnets Can Do. Children's Press, 1995.
Very clear and colorful photographs that feature children complement the simple text. Large print and good spacing also appeal to students. Index

Gibson, Gary. Playing with Magnets. Copper Beech Books, 1995.
A book for the primary student, an interesting addition to the usual topics and areas covered is a page of Fantastic Magnet Facts. A glossary and index are included.

Levine, Shar and Leslie Johnstone. The Magnet Book. Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. 1997.
For the intermediate student, the book includes a glossary and index. In addtion there is a Preface to Parents and Teachers, a Safety Note and a List of Supplies and Equipment. The three parts are Magnets and Magnetism, Electricity and Magnetism and Magnetic Magic and Games.

Lowell, Laura and Carolyn Willard. Sifting Through Science, Teacher's Guide. University of California at Berkeley, Lawrence Hall of Science, 1997.
There are four activities in this book, the second of which is on free exploration of magnets at a learning center. There are also activities to extend the lesson.

Oxlade, Chris. Science Magic with Magnets. Baron's Educational Series, Inc., 1995.
A table of contents features twelve magic tricks highlighting magnets. Boxes on each page cover what you will need, getting prepared and the science behind the trick. Glossary and Index

Parker, Steve. Magnets. Gareth Stevens Publishing, 1998.
An excellent overview from the history of magnets to magnets of the future. Some of the projects listed are unique and there is a page, "For more information," which has a selective book bibliography, videos, and web sites listed. Glossary and Index

Sherwood, Elizabeth A., Robert A. Williams and Robert E. Rockwell. More Mudpies to Magnets: Science for Young Children. Gryphon House, Inc., 1990.
There is an interesting experiment on creating rust and, subsequently, classifying the rusty and non-rusty materials with a magnet. The Contents includes an excellent page of teacher resources. Index

Stangl, Jean. Science Toolbox: Making and Using the Tools of Science. Tab Books, 1994.
There are eight magnet activities with background information for teachers. The introduction to the book focuses on centers as a discovery approach to learning. This correlates with Piaget's theory that children learn best from hands-on activities. Index

VanCleave, Janice. Janice VanCleave's Magnets - Mind-Boggling Experiments You Can Turn into Science Fair Projects. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1993.
There are 20 magnet experiments in this book. Each experiment identifies the problem, lists materials needed, the procedure to follow, an explanation of the results, how to display the project and some extension activities. Glossary and Index

VanCleave, Janice. Play and Find Out About Science: Easy Experiments for Young Children. John Wiley & Sons, 1996.

Williams, Robert A., Robert E. Rockwell and Elizabeth A. Sherwood. Mudpies to Magnets: A Preschool Science Curriculum. Gryphon House, Inc., 1987.
In the initial section on planning, a Magnetism Concept Map is featured as well as a kit on magnets which can be put together. The building of a magnet box is also explained. These ideas are useful in developing science centers and accompanying activities. Index


American Science and Surplus 3605 Howard St. Skokie, IL 60076 ph (847) 982-0870

Cuisenaire P.O. Box 5026 White Plains, NY 10602-5026 Customer Service (800) 872-1100

Delta Education Hands-On Science K-8 P.O. Box 3000 Nashua, NH 03061-3000 ph 1-800-442-5444

Nasco Science '99 - The Science Teachers' Favorite Catalog 901 Janesville Ave Fort Atkinson, WI 53538-0901 ph (920) 563-2446 E-Mail: [email protected]

Science Kit and Boreal Laboratories 777 East Park Drive Tonawanda, NY 14150-6784 ph 1-800-828-7777

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The following two CD-ROMs have been viewed and we consider them to be of value and age appropriate.

Orange Cherry. Superstar Science CD: Explore the Fundamentals of Physical Science!
Gr.4-8. Available from New Media Schoolhouse, (800) 672-6002.
Magnets is section IV of six sections which cover the physical science area. Video clips and sequences that are animated explain experiments. The principles of magnetism are covered through use of experiments and demonstrations. The idea of science being a part of your daily life is stressed. There are two worksheets which are also designed for the primary student.

DK Multimedia.The Way Things Work. Gr. 3-Up. Available from Fas-Track Computer Products,
(800) 927-3936.
The use of David Macaulay's unique illustrations provides an appealing introduction to the principles of science which includes: electromagnetism, magnetism and magnets. Machines related to each of these principles are also explained. A new version has a 3-D interface, David Macaulay's videos as well as an on-line link to a "Mammoth Inventor's Club."

The following CD-ROMS and videos have not been viewed. Titles are listed, along with the supplier's phone number, as an aid for contacting them if you wish to preview or purchase materials from them.

Fas-Track Computer Products 1-800-927-3936 web site:

  1. Learning All About Electricity & Magnetism: Physical Science IV (Series.) Gr. 4-8
  2. Science Blaster Jr. Gr. PreK-2. Davidson, 1996.

Library Video Company 1-800-843-3620

  1. Magnetism & Electricity: Discoveryworks Series (Series.) Ages 8-12.

National School Products 1-800-251-9124

  1. Science II, includes Magnetism and Electricity: (Science Series.) Gr. 3-4.
  2. Super Solvers Gizmos & Gadgets. Gr. 1-6.


Thirteen-WNET. 1998-1999 Instructional Television Resource Guide. 450 West 33rd Street, New York, NY 10001. Phone: 212-560-6613.
Science is Elementary, grade level K-2, has a program on magnets, "Let's Explore Magnets," Lesson seven.

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SVE (Society for Visual Education) 1-800-829-1900

  1. Discovering Magnets and Electricity: Skill Booster. 3 filmstrips. 7 min. Primary.


The following video has been viewed and we consider it to be of value and age appropriate:

Agency for Instructional Technology (AIT). Lesson #7 Let's Explore Magnets: Science is Elementary.
(Series) Gr. K-2. Available from AIT, (800) 457-4509 or (812) 339-2203.
A 14 minute video which explains magnets for the primary student. Students are actors and actresses and are very natural in behavior and presentation. There is appropriate up-beat musical accompaniment. A Teacher's Guide for the series is included. Learning goals are stated and the video is broken into an exploration segment, concept development segment and application segment.

Charles Clark Company, Inc. 1-800-247-7009

  1. Magnets: Primary Science (Series.) 10 min. Gr. 1-4.
  2. The Magic of Magnets: Electricity and Magnetism (Series.) 12 min. Gr. 4-6.
  3. Magnetism and Fields of Force: Physical Science Learning Lab (Series.) 13 min. Gr. 4-6.
  4. Electrical Current and Magnetism. 19 min. Gr. 4-8.
  5. Electrical Energy: Physical Science (Series.) 13-15 min. Gr. 4-7.
  6. Magnetism: Junior Electrician Series (Series.) 10 min. Gr. 1-4 United Learning.

Filmic Archives 1-800-366-1920

  1. My First Science Video: Sony "My First" Series (Series.) 45 min. 1992.

Professional Media Service (Follett Library Resources) 1-800-223-7672

  1. Learning About Energy: Bilingual Science Learning Library Series (Series.) 57 min. Gr. 1-6.Video Knowledge, 1991.
  2. Learning About Magnetism (2nd Ed.) 14 min. Gr. 4-8. Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1993.
  3. What Magnets Do: Way Things Work Series (Series.) 7 min. Gr. 2-5. Films for the Humanities, 1988.

Media Basics Video 1-800-542-2505

  1. Magnets. 15 min. Primary.
  2. Learning About Electricity: Physical Science for Primary Grades (Series.) 12 min. Primary.

SVE (Society for Visual Education) 1-800-829-1900

  1. Magnets! Magnets!: Science Starters (Series.) 10 min. Primary and Intermediate.
  2. Science Helper K-8 (resulting lesson plans facilitated by National Science Foundation.) Educator Use.
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