Reflection: Student Led Inquiry The Push and Pull of Magnets - Section 5: Wrap Up


Teaching Through Experimentation 

The goal of this lesson was not for students to know what size magnet is the strongest.  The goal was for students to understand that there is an invisible magnetic field that surrounds a magnet, and this magnetic field is strongest at the poles.   Another goal of the lesson was for students to practice the scientific process of experimentation, analyze the data, and question the results.  By teaching this lesson through an experiment, students are able to see the magnet attract the paperclip from a distance which allows them to witness the invisible magnetic field at work.  They are applying the new knowledge they acquired during the warm up activity, but don't even realize they are practicing with the concepts and using the science vocabulary because they are using it in a hands on experiment.  

I purposely chose magnets that would make them think the largest one would be the strongest, and the smallest would be the weakest.  They find at the end that it is actually the opposite, the smallest magnet was actually the strongest.  The purpose of this is to activate their scientific thinking and lead them to more science questions, "if size doesn't affect the strength, what does?"

It is important to provide real scientific opportunities for students to help them practice with thinking like a scientific and promote their inquiry skills.  Not every experiment will work out how they think it will.  They need time to reflect on it, ask questions, try to find answers to their new questions, and possibly even plan another experiment if time permits.  They need to understand how scientists in the real world approach problems.  

  Teaching Through Experimentation
  Student Led Inquiry: Teaching Through Experimentation
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The Push and Pull of Magnets

Unit 4: Motion, Forces and Interactions
Lesson 6 of 11

Objective: SWBAT describe that there is an invisible magnetic field that surrounds a magnet which is strongest at its poles.

Big Idea: Students will get a visual of the magnetic field that surrounds a magnet and test magnets of various sizes to determine if larger magnets have stronger magnetic fields.

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  60 minutes
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