Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Opposites Attract (Middle School)

Jana Lantz
Miami-Dade County Schools


Students investigate the properties of magnets and static electricity through a series of lab activities, demonstrating the behaviors of charged particles as they relate to the atom.


The student understands the behavior of charged particles as evidenced by simple static electricity experiments.


-2 magnets
-2 pieces of metal without an electrical charge
-2 small balloons

Per lab group:
- 2 Magnets
- 2 Small Balloons, round balloons work best
- Small pieces of paper
- Lab worksheet
- Pencil


1. Duplicate Lab Worksheets.
2. Gather Lab supplies.


Students should have already gained the knowledge that atoms are small particles of matter that are too small to be seen without magnification. This activity is completed in cooperative lab groups of two to four students each.

1. Inflate a balloon, create a static charge by friction, then stick the balloon to the wall.

2. Explain the objective of the activity to the students.

3. Review/teach the three possible electrical charges that an object may have. (Positive, Neutral, or Negative.)

4. The instructor differentiates the behavior of charged particles by: showing the students that the two pieces of metal without a charge do not attract; showing that the magnets are attracted to each other. (Note: The north pole of the magnet will be attracted to the south pole of the other magnet, and the two south poles will repel each other, as will the two north poles.)

5. Distribute the lab materials to the students.

6. Using magnets, complete Part I of the lab worksheet with the students by modeling the activity. Instruct the students to complete the worksheet and record observations as the class works through each step.

7. Conduct a teacher/student discussion of the students' current knowledge of static electricity. (Things to discuss would include; being shocked when you walk across the floor and touch a door handle, why your hair stands up, and why clothes stick together when they come out of the dryer.)

8. Instruct the students to complete Part II of the worksheet in their cooperative groups. (20-25 min.)

9. Walk around the classroom to monitor and assist the students as needed.

10. After the students have completed Part II, have one person from each group present the findings of their group to the class.

11. Conduct a class discussion to identify any discrepancies, and clarify any misconceptions that the students may have.

12. Instruct the students to complete Part III of worksheet independently.

13. Collect the completed worksheets.


Student assessment by the teacher is ongoing during the activity. The completed lab worksheet will be assessed by the teacher for accuracy of the questions and problems on the worksheet. The answers to the worksheet are located in the attached file as an answers guide. Students who do not achieve 70% mastery have the opportunity to enhance their understanding by further experimentation.

Attached Files

A student worksheet and answer guide.     File Extension: pdf

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