Opposites Attract

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SWBAT understand that magnets are attracted to each other when the poles are opposite and repel when they are the same.

Big Idea

Not since Paula Abdul's hit singe have these words been uttered so much in one classroom. Your young scientists will discover the attraction of the north and south poles.

Setting the Stage

1 minutes

Materials:  bar magnets, recording sheet, and clipboards

The students will start by gathering on the carpet and a discussion of new vocabulary will happen. They then work with a partner to discover what happens when magnetic poles are facing each other.  The students will record their findings and then share them out with the class.  

NOTE:  Our district is transitioning to the NGSS.  Although we are implementing some of the units this year, I am still required to teach units that have now been assigned to other grade levels. This unit is one of those units that has been affected by the shifts in grade levels.  I continue to teach this unit because it meets the following Vermont State Standards:

S1-2:2  Students demonstrate their understanding of predicting and hypothesizing

S1-2:3  Students demonstrate their understanding of experimental design

S1-2:4  Students demonstrate their ability to conduct experiments

S1-2:6  Students demonstrate their ability to analyze data

I want students to gain a sound and working understanding of the scientific method.  Although this unit will bring in magnetic concepts, the "major focus" continues to be developing learners to think like scientists through experimental learning.



5 minutes

The students start class by sitting in front of the Smart board.

"I want to start today's lesson by showing you the following video clip.  Some of the information is about things we have already discussed and some of it is new.  We will talk about it after the video is over."

I show them the video but will focus on the ideas of poles and about attracting and repelling.  Building this concept is developing the context for the next lesson.  

"The scientist in this video is a famous scientist called Bill Nye.  He is actually someone that I met when I was visiting the White House.  He mentioned that each magnet has a two different poles.  Can anyone remember what the two poles were called?  He also mentioned the terms repel and attract. What does repel mean?  What does attract mean?" 

I will write each of these terms and definitions down and then add them to our vocabulary wall.  It is important that students understand and use the correct science vocabulary in their discussions and writings.


20 minutes

Advanced Preparation:  Have enough bar magnets so that each student has one.  Make sure the magnets are labeled with a N and a S.

"I would like each of you to take out your science notebooks.  Today's focus is magnetic poles (I write this on the board).  Using the anchor chart I want you to set up today's entry.  You will then partner up and take two bar magnets from the table.  You and your partner will need to get your magnets to attract to and repel from each other.  You must record your observations and findings in your notebook."

I want the students to be a bit more independent in setting up their notebooks and am offering less guidance as they create today's entry.  

"You will have about 15 minutes to explore and record.  Please make sure to stay focused and don't forget to record what you find out.  You can use colored pencils to help you with your exploration."

As students are working, I circulate to each group to observe how they are working, how they are recording their observations and to engage them in conversation about their learning.  I help them label their diagrams if their is confusion.  If students are struggling, I work with them to guide them through a few attempts and discuss with them their observations.  


10 minutes

"I would like you to all clean up your stuff and meet me on the carpet for science circle.  You should bring just your science notebook with you."

Today's discussion focuses on what the students found out about the poles and when magnets attract or repel each other.  

"You just spent the last 15 minutes exploring the magnetic poles of bar magnets.  What can you tell me about your findings?"  

The goal of this discussion is that students should understand that opposites attract and that each magnet has a north and south pole.


5 minutes

"I am going to give each of you a sheet.  I want you to look at each magnet set and decide if they will attract or repel when they are pushed together.  It is important that you tell me why you think they will repel or attract.  When you are done, I want you to hand the sheet to me."

I am doing this as a quick exit ticket to see if the students can connect their exploration and understanding from the class discussion.   


1 minutes

As stated in the previous section, I use the exit ticket to informally assess the students understanding of today's focus (opposites attract).  I will also use the Science Journal Scoring Rubric to assess their notebook entries from the lesson.