March 4, 2005

Magnets Lesson

I am too tired to blog in complete detail with web resources, maybe I will get to it tomorrow maybe I will not but I did want to do a quick recap. Based on Ciaran's recent interest in magnets we spent the afternoon studying them. A trip to a friend's house to pick up a variety of magnets and then a trip to the library, some google searches, and of course lots of hands on experiments made up our day on magnets.

Some of the experiments we did included hypothesizing what would stick to the magnet and then testing those theories. The kids ran around the house trying the magnets on everything (except computers of course) and had a blast doing it. They liked that different parts of items would respond different (ie the screws would stick to the magnet but the wood would not) and they were pretty much right in all their predictions.

Next we showed the different strengths of magnets and how much more some could pick up then others. We talked about how magnets make other metal objects magnetic and practiced picking up metal in chains and seeing who could make the longest, Ciaran did. We talked about polarity and tested it by trying to connect same poles of magnets and the kids really thought they might be able to at first and kept laughing when they could not. Then they connected opposite ends. We talked about how our play trains had magnets that connected and repelled as well.

The thing that seemed to most surprise them was that magnets still worked through other items. We guessed whether it would or not (in the beginning they always said no, then they learned) and then tested it. We tried plastic, glass, wood, paper, blankets, clothing, styrofoam, tables, and anything else we could find and try. Ciaran especially enjoyed this activity and got very excited whenever he discovered something new that it would work through.

We painted with magnets. Placing paper on a plastic sheet supported by two blocks we dipped various metal pieces on strings into tempera paint and then used a magnet underneath the plastic to move around the metal pieces (an experiment we did recently at a local science fair day) and make paint designs.

We basically played with magnets all afternoon and the kids and I had fun doing it. They can speak intelligently about them but also passionately and they definitely took ownership in the lesson of the day. We have a few more followup activites including building their own magnet, magnetism of the earth and making bendable magnet figures.


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