Testing the Force

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SWBAT explore if a magnet can attract another through a variety of materials.

Big Idea

Can anything come between such a wonderful attraction? Today your students will test the strength of a magnets force by trying to attract another magnet through a variety of solid materials.

Setting the Stage

1 minutes

Advanced Preparation:   notebook paper,cardboard, shoe, plastic cup, aluminum foil, fabric,  sandpaper, waxed paper, bar magnets

This activity will allow the students to test their magnet/attraction knowledge from a previous lesson. They will work independently as they make predictions about the ability of a magnet to attract another magnet through a variety of solid materials.  They will test their predictions and then report out their findings.  

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 start with a quick review of the word attract.  I then review the ideas and concepts that were taught in the previous lesson.  

"Let's start today's lesson be reviewing the word attract.  Who can tell us what it means?  Put your thumb on your chin of you know.  Now I want you to turn to a partner and discuss what the word means."

I am choosing to do this because I want to have the students talk to each other about the definition before having someone state it out loud.  By having students put their thumbs on their chin, it allows me to see who quickly remembers the definition.  

"I am holding two bar magnets.  When I get them close together, what happens?  What would happen if I  put something between them and then tried it?  This is what your are going to explore today.  You will make predictions and test if a magnet's force is strong enough to attract another magnet when different materials are placed between them."

I captured this introduction to demonstrate how I make sure that the students are clear on the task. 


20 minutes

You will need to make enough copies of Testing Force Recording Sheet for each of your students.  I like to have all of the materials on one table/spot.  This way the students can easily access the items they need.  By having a community table of materials you will not need to have enough of the materials for each student to have their own.

"You are going to test a variety of times on your own.  You will need the recording sheet and each person will need two bar magnets.  You will first make a prediction about what will happen and then test the magnet and record your results on the table.  I have left three blank spaces on the table so that you can choose three other items to test."

As students are testing, I circulate to make sure that students are making predictions before they test.  It also allows me to talk with each student about their results and to observe if they are relating the results of different materials (i.e. thinner things allow the magnets to attract).  


10 minutes

I gather the students back to the carpet as we meet to discuss the results of their tests.  The purpose of this conversation will be to have the students discuss what they found out and to discuss any conclusions that they can come up with based on the results.

"I want to talk about the results of your testing.  DId anyone have an instance where the magnet didn't attract through any of the materials?  Did anyone find that their magnet attracted to the other through all of the materials?  Why did it work with some and not with others?"

The idea is that the thickness of the item and the magnet strength will effect wether or not an attraction will occur.  


5 minutes

To end the lesson, I ask each kid to fill out their science notebook for today's entry.  I want to see if students can connect to the concept of magnets having different strengths.  In this case, the students will have to identify why one student's magnet were able to attract through a very thick book but another's students weren't.  

"I want you to look at this book ( I hold up a dictionary).  One student used two small disc magnets and tried to attract one with the other by putting one on top of the book and one on the bottom.  The magnets didn't attract.  The other student used two super strength bar magnets and they attracted. Why did one set of magnets attract through the book and the other set didn't?"



1 minutes

I look through the students' responses (in their science notebooks) to see if they connected to a stronger magnet having a greater force.  Although I am not looking for mastery with this, I just want to see who can connect with the idea.