May the Force Be With You!

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Students will be able to determine how to interrupt the force of magnetism and measure the force of magnetism.

Big Idea

This lesson is due to a student's question about how the force of his magnet was breaking when he moved his arm quickly. The motivation today is high because it is a student's idea.


5 minutes

Yesterday, students discovered that the force of a magnet can travel through materials. They also realized non-magnetic materials can become a temporary magnet. 

Today, I will post the focus questions on the board. 

I will simply ask the students to turn to their shoulder partners and discuss what they think about these questions. 

Then, I will explain to them that by the end of the session, they should be able to answer these questions with evidence. 

Mini Lesson

10 minutes

To begin the lesson, I will share with the class the materials on the science tray. The trays will include a pan balance, two magnets, 6 plastic chips, and 10-15 metal disks. I will then review how to balance the scale and discuss with them the idea of controlling variables, like the placement of the metal disks. 

I will have the students lead me to the idea that we can use the weight of the disks to find out how to break the magnetic force. The number of disks it takes to cause the two magnets to separate will be our measurement data.  I will ask the students to keep track of each of the tests, as we will compare them for consistency as a whole class. 

Finally, I will ask the students to go to their work stations and set up their balances. They will also be reminded to repeat the test at least 5 times to get accurate data. I will ask the students to review with me why scientists run more than one test. 


Active Engagement #1

10 minutes

As students set up, I will circulate and help make sure the balances are set up correctly and that teams are using precise measuring strategies (disk placement, lifting and replacing cups, and magnet placement).

Then, as the students run their 5 tests, I will ask prompting questions, pushing them to consider why their data may be different each time and how to report an average, or the mode of the data. 


Mid-Workshop Mini Lesson

10 minutes

Once most groups have found the number of disks it takes to break the force of the two magnets, we will gather and discuss the focus questions,

"How can the strength of the magnetic force be broken when it travels through an object?"

"Does the distance between two magnets effect the strength of the force?"

I will then ask the students to consider how we might use items on the tray to explore these questions. I will facilitate the conversation until we arrive at the idea that the plastic chips can be used to create a create a distance between the magnets. 

Next, I will model how to place the chips and also how to mark the data on a T-Chart and on our graph, which is what we will use to report out our results. 

Before  the students move back to their work stations, I will ask them to SKIP testing the second and fourth chip.  They will mark the results of 0, 1, 3, 5, and 6. 

The reason for doing this is to prompt conversation during the close on using data in order to predict outcomes. 

Active Engagement #2

15 minutes

Students will be investigating and collecting data as I roam around the room and keep groups on task, answer questions, and prompt conversations. I will pay attention to making sure they are using the materials correctly, sharing the work, and reporting their data correctly. 

The graphing will be an important tool in our closing, so I will make sure the students are marking their data correctly while being careful to control their variables.  


5 minutes

As a closing, I will ask teams of students to report out what they found for each groupings of plastic chips. I will also show one group's graph and ask students to discuss with their shoulder partners what they might predict as a result for using 2 and 4 chips based on the graph. I may have students come to the board and mark where they predict the magnetic force will break. I will then run these tests in front of the whole group to confirm their predictions.