Skip Navigation

Contextual Learning Portal

Atoms, Water and Magnetism


  • Project TitleAtoms, Water and Magnetism
  • ThemeChemistry, with links to physics
  • Submitted ByJennifer Leonard
  • OrganizationThe Skills Library
  • Brief DescriptionFive simple experiments that suggest the connection between atoms/molecules and electricity and magnetism. In our Science Wednesdays program we did this activity in a 90-minute session; but it could be expanded to allow more time for linking theory and experiment.
  • Materials / ResourcesFor making and un-making a cup of tea:
    Warm water for tea
    Tea bags (we used a red fruit tea)
    Potting soil (for filter material) (any sand or soil will work)
    Coffee filters
    Peat pots (or anything that can be used to make a filter)
    Clear cups/glasses for tea & filtered water

    Pipettes and pipette tray or other substitute containers


  • Pre-requisite knowledgeMany of the children have a general awareness of chemistry and of atoms/molecules. This session is just part of the process of starting to think about the chemical structure of everyday substances.

Units / Activities

  • QuestionQuestion: Have you ever heard that water molecules are a little bit like magnets?
  • DiscussionDiscussion: Atoms are made of particles -- protons, electrons and neutrons. These particles are in constant motion. Electrons and protons have a slight electrical charge - a little bit of zing!
  •  /project650_9195/WaterMolecule.png
  • Experiments - Water, magnetsSee attached page or activity sheet.

    View/Download File: Atoms, Water and Magnets - Five Experiments

  • Follow-up - Models of atoms/moleculesProvide models of atoms/molecules and a periodic table. We have a periodic table made of puzzle-piece tiles that you can click together.

    Allow time to handle and think about these supplies.

Activity Sheets

  • Atoms, Water and Magnets

    Atoms and molecules
    Science Wednesday

    1.       Atoms are made of tiny particles that are constantly in motion.

    2.       These particles have electrical charges – a little zing! – and attract particles from other atoms & molecules.

    3.       FOR EXAMPLE: Magnets are made of elements that have a strong positive charge on one side and a strong negative charge on another.

    4.       DID YOU KNOW:  Water molecules are a tiny bit magnetic too.  Notice how water molecules stick to each other and to anything you dissolve in water.

    Challenge 1:  Try out a magnet:

    (a.)  Use any of the magnets on the table to connect to other magnets or to pick up pieces of metal


    Challenge 2: Make a cup of tea:

    A.      Dissolve tea in a cup of warm water

    B.      THINK LIKE A SCIENTIST:   Imagine that each water molecule and each water droplet is like a magnet, attracting the particles of tea.


    Challenge 3:  Over-fill a container with water


    (a.)  Use a dropper to fill up a container with water.

    (b.)  Keep adding more water to see if you can fill the container higher than the edges without spilling.

    (c.)   THINK LIKE A SCIENTIST:  Why does this work?  


    Challenge 4: Make an electromagnet:

    (a.)  Wrap wire around a straight piece of metal (bolt or nail). 

    (b.)  BRIEFLY attach both ends of the wire to a battery

    (c.)   Test to see if the electromagnet will pick up a paperclip

    (d.)  Quickly disconnect the electromagnet before it gets too hot.

    (e.)  Use cardboard to design a frame for the electromagnet.

    (f.)    THINK LIKE AN INVENTOR:  How could you use an electromagnet to make something useful?



    Challenge 5:  Un-make a cup of tea:


    (a.)  Can you use some type of filter to turn the cup of tea back into clear water?

    (b.)  THINK LIKE AN INVENTOR:  How can you use filters to make something useful?





  •  /project650_9195/ElectroMagnet.png

Tags = Science-Wednesdays | chemistry | Subject = Science | Grade Level = Elem, MS | Time Period = | Program/Funding = |
Direct website link to this project: