• Participants will inevitably (and intentionally) struggle as they attempt to create their own STEM projects. This is an incredibly powerful experience building perseverance, comfort with trying the unknown, and overall confidence!

    Productive Struggle Opportunities
    - Cutting
    - Taping
    - Tying Knots

    Education Goals
    - Inquiry
  • Vocabulary

    Magnetic Field - A space near a magnet where a physical field occurs from a moving electric charge that creates a force on another moving electric charge

    Attract - to draw by a physical force causing or tending to cause objects to approach, adhere or unite; pull

    Repel - the physical force of objects moving away or apart from each other

    Ferromagnetism - A substance that has a high susceptibility to magnetization, the strength of which depends on the applied magnetizing field. Iron is an example of a ferromagnetic object.
  • Science Goals
    - Physics is the study of matter and energy and their interactions in the physical world.
    - In physics, we study forces. Forces are natural influences that cause changes in motion in an object.
    - Some forces, including gravity and magnetism, can cause objects to move from a distance

In this Rosie Labs guide your will find:

  • Productive struggle opportunities for students during their project build,
  • Lesson objectives and concept overview,
  • Optional STEM topic video to share with participants,
  • Step-by-step instructions and an overhead build video of the Rosie Riveters’ Flying Magnetic Art Project,
  • Optional STEM activities to further explore the objectives and concepts used in the project build.


Understanding the relationship between magnetic poles and magnetic fields. This lesson serves as a a good basis to exploring electricity in subsequent lessons.

Concept Overview & Experiment Inspiration

Magnetism is an invisible force in which the movement of electrical charges causes magnetic objects to either attract towards each other or repel away from each other. There is a magnetic field that surrounds each of our magnets with positive and negative charges. Charges that are opposite, meaning a positive charge connected with a negative charge, will attract or pull magnetic objects together. If they are close enough, two magnets will even jump towards each other! This force is called magnetic attraction. Magnets with the same charge, for example, positive connecting with positive charges, or negative connecting with negative charges, will repel, or not want to touch. 

Magnets have two sides (or poles) —a north pole and a south pole, which are on opposite ends, just like the North and South poles on the globe. Two south poles will never stick together, and neither will two north poles, because they are being repelled. A north pole will stick to the south pole of another magnet, because they are attracted to each other. [Have students say “opposites attract and same sides repel” as a group in a few funny voices.]

All magnetic objects are made of metal, but not all metals are magnetic! Ferromagnetism is a property of metals like iron, cobalt, and nickel. These metals have a magnetic field around them. The most common magnetic metal is iron. Students can use the magnets in their kits to investigate whether different objects in their classrooms are ferromagnetic or not.

Required Materials

  • box
  • magnet
  • double sided adhesive
  • fishing line
  • tape
  • scissors
  • markers

Step-By-Step Instructions

Step 1

Draw a picture (background) on the inside bottom of the box.

Step 2

Draw a small “flying” object slightly larger than the paperclip on the white paper that will compliment (match) the background on your box. The object should be no larger than 1.5in x 1.5in. 

Step 3

Cut out the “flying” object.

Step 4

Attach the magnet to the top inside wall of the box using the double-sided adhesive.

Step 5

Tie one end of the fishing line to the paper clip.

Step 6

Tape the “flying” object to the paper clip. The fishing line should hang down from the top of your drawing. 

Step 7

Attach the opposite end of the fishing line to the bottom inside wall of the box (opposite the magnet). Use a strip of tape along the bottom with the fishing line secured perpendicularly to the tape so that it can be pulled in both directions. 

Step 8

Adjust the line so that the paper clip is being pulled by the magnet but far enough away that the magnet doesn’t touch the paper clip. Now your object should fly!

Optional STEM Activities

Resource 1

Give an assortment of magnets and non-magnetic materials to students, so they can experience the forces of magnetism on their own. Walk around the classroom, observe what the students are noticing and ask clarifying questions. After a few minutes of exploration, have students get into groups of two. Have students show each other the tricks they found to do with their magnets. Encourage them to talk about why they think that happened in their pairs. Come back as a whole group and have students from each group share what they learned about magnets. 

Discuss participants’ observations as a group and use their observations to explain principles of magnetism. Did their explorations support their hypotheses or did they make changes to their thinking? Why? What other questions would the group like to investigate in the future? 

Resource 2

Perform a “Magic Trick” with magnets. Take one magnet, or a magnetic marble, and place it on top of a magazine in your hand. With your other hand, secretly hold another magnet and move it around underneath the magazine to make the magnet look like it’s moving on its own – just like magic!

Have students use the principles of magnetism (attracting, repelling, ferromagnets, etc.) to explain what they think is happening in the “magic trick”.

Resource 3

With ring magnets and a pencil you can demonstrate attracting and repelling. Hold the pencil near the eraser with the tip pointing straight up. Put a ring magnet onto the pencil, then put a second ring magnet on. The second ring magnet will either stick to the first or be suspended in the air by the magnetic force repelling it. If the second magnet sticks to the first, try lifting it off, flipping it over, then placing it on the pencil again.

Have students use the principles of magnetism (attracting, repelling, ferromagnets, etc.) to explain what they think is happening in the to the magnets on the pencil. Note the similarities and differences between the ferromagnet and the magnet in the “magic trick” and the two magnets in this demonstration.

Resource 4

Have students use their new knowledge to form some hypotheses. A hypothesis is an educated guess. Meaning we take the information that we learned to guess or predict what might happen in an experiment. One-by-one lay out the scenarios outlined below and ask students to form a hypothesis on what will occur (ex. repel/attract):

  1. Two magnets with the North Poles facing each other.
  2. Two magnets with the North and South Poles facing each other.
  3. A bar magnet and a horseshoe magnet placed near each other.
  4. A paperclip placed near the North Pole of a magnet.
  5. A paperclip placed near the South Pole of a magnet.