Advanced Preparation: legos, magnets, tape, science notebooks
This activity will ask the students to put their knowledge of magnetic attraction into action. The students will work in teams of two or three to create a Lego car and will be given two magnets to use to help meet the challenge of making their car move three inches without touching their car.
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.
I gather the students on the carpet to face the Smart board. I introduce today's task and show them this very brief video clip.
"You are going to use Legos to build a car. It can be as big as you want but it must have four wheels and be able to roll. It doesn't have to have doors or even a roof. You will then have to figure out how to move your car three inches with our touching the car. You will have two magnets and tape that you can use."
I have the students team up and find a spot in the room where they can work. I have the wheels separate from the "community" pile of Legos. This way I can make sure each team is given four wheels.
"You will want to talk about your ideas as you build and decide how you might use the magnets to help you move the car. There is tape and Legos available for you to use. You will also need to take two magnets. I am also going to give each group a ruler. This way you can test to see if you can move your car 3 inches"
As students are working, I circulate to observe their discussions and ideas. I will only intervene with the Lego part of the process because I am not assessing their ability to build a car. I will not interject with the placement/use of the magnets.
As students finish their designs I remind them to test them and then bring their design to the carpet for a discussion and testing.
I gather the students on the carpet for a discussion about what they built and why they placed the magnets where they did. In other words, what was their logic behind their thinking.
"I would like to start by asking each team to present their car and explain how they plan on making their car move without touching it. Then I will ask you to explain why you placed the magnets where you did and why do you think it will work."
After each group presents, we test the cars to see if they do move the three inches or not. If some cars don't move or can't move the three inches, I ask the students why they think this is happening (i.e. the magnet is strong enough, the poles aren't attracted to each other because it is a N-N or S-S alignment).
"I would like you to open up your science notebooks and set them up for today's entry. I want you to draw a picture of your car and explain why it moved without touching it or if it didn't move, I want you to explain to me how you could fix it to make it work. Either way you must draw your car first."
I want to see if the students can identify that the reason their car moved was because of the attraction between the two magnets and that it had to have a north-south alignment.
"When you are done, I would like you to grab a Science Journal Scoring Rubric and use it to score your entry in your notebook."
I will use the Science Journal Scoring Rubric to evaluate their entries.