Magnets and Water

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SWBAT communicate their ideas about magnetism and decide if air is necessary for magnets to work.

Big Idea

Splish Splash, the magnets taking a bath! Today your young scientist will work with a partner as the predict if a magnet can pick up steel nails under water.

Setting the Stage

1 minutes

Advanced Preparation:  bowls, magnets, steel paper clips, water, science notebooks.

This activity will allow the students to use the strategy of predicting, explaining, and observing.  Students will start by gathering as a group as I model a paperclip picking up nails (in air).  Students will then predict if the same thing would happen if both the nails and magnet were submerged in water.  They will test their predictions and then report out their findings.  The goal of this lesson is that students will understand that a magnet can attract through water and not just in air.  

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

This investigation also addresses the NSES expectation of students understanding that magnets attract certain types of materials.  

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.



10 minutes

I gather the students in a circle on the carpet.  I ask them to bring their science notebooks and a pencil to the carpet with them.  I have three steel nails, a magnet, and a bowl of water for this part of the lesson.  

"I want to start by reviewing the magnet vocabulary words that we had introduced so far."

I quickly review the terms: magnet, magnetic, attract, and repel.  I have included a quick clip on why this is important.  

"I want you to look at the items I have in my hand.  I have a magnet and three nails.  They are steel nails.  Based on on learning from this unit, why is it important that the nails are steel?"

I am looking for the students to connect that not all metal is magnetic and/or attracted to a magnet. This is something we covered in a previous lesson in this unit.  

"I need a volunteer.  I need someone to come up and place the nails in the palm of their hand.  Now I will take the magnet and slowly lower it toward the nails.  Watch what happens.  What did you notice?"

I am making sure that everyone realizes/notices that the magnet attracts the nails toward it.  I captured this conversation in the following clip.



15 minutes

I take out the bowl of water and place the nails in it.  

"Now that I have out the nails in water, I wonder if I could still use the magnet to pick up the nails.  If the magnet is place in the bowl of water too, will it still attract the nails?"

I don't ask for the answer yet because I want the students to make a prediction and then discover the answer on their own.

"Before you start testing, I want you to take out your science notebooks books and write today's date and the focus.  Today's focus is 'magnets in water.'  Once you had written that, I want you to make a hypothesis and then explain why you think it will attract or not attract. You must show me your prediction before you start testing."

I am asking the students to show me their hypothesis and explanation because I want to make sure that they each sound time and understand that this is an important part.  By checking their work, the students won't rush to get to the testing phase.

"Now that you have completed your hypothesis, you will work in teams of three to complete the test.  Each team will need a bowl, three nails, water, and a magnet.  I would like each of you to test the magnet in the water.  Once you have tested it, you can record your results in your science notebook.  I would like each of you to draw a diagram, label it, and explain what happened.  There are colored pencils available for you to use as well. "

As the teams are working, I will circulate amongst the groups to check in with their progress.  I will specifically focus on the students' diagrams.  This is a great opportunity to make sure their diagrams are clear and accurate.


10 minutes

As students finish, I have them clean up and bring their science notebooks to the carpet. The form a circle for Science Circle and to prepare for today's discussion.

"I want to have a discussion about what people found out.  Who can tell me what they discovered? Was it different then your prediction?  Why did you think it would or wouldn't attract?"

I use these questions to start the discussion.  I want students to speak about each others' idea and observations.  I will act more as a moderator for this part of the lesson.  


5 minutes

I am going to end the lesson with one final question.  I want you to answer one final question in your notebook.  

"If you laid the nails down on a table, put a piece of paper over them, and then place the magnet on top of the paper; would the magnet still attract the nails?  Your job is to state yes or no and then explain why."

I want to see if the students can translate their learning to a different situation.  


1 minutes

I will go back through each notebook and look for two different things.  I will use the Science Notebook Scoring Rubric to score their work for the initial observation.  I will also look at how they did with the question presented in the elaborate section.  I want to see who students did with it and how they answered.