I Need a Magnet!

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Students will be able to use their knowledge of magnetism to solve a problem or respond to a situation.

Big Idea

This is an extremely fun activity for the students that will allow them to put to use all they know about magnets and magnetic fields. It is also a great way for me to assess their learning.


5 minutes

Today, we will wrap up our unit study of magnetism. In order to allow the students some artistic license and a way to express their knowledge in a real world way, I have devised situations for them to solve. 

The question I will pose them with is, "Is there any situation you can think of where a magnet could help solve a problem?"

I will ask them to discuss this with their shoulder partners and then as a full class. The reason for this is to merely engage them in the thinking of magnets as solutions, not just as a phenomenon.


Mini Lesson

10 minutes

My mini lesson today will simply be to present the situations for the students to choose from and the paperwork that they should fill out while working. I want this lesson to engage the students and get their wheels turning. 

The success of this project completely depends on the students seeing a real world reason to solve a problem with magnets. This lesson is it!

I will simply read the situations to the students in order to answer any initial questions, explain what each is asking for, and to, again, build motivation.

Active Engagement

20 minutes

While this group worked, I realized they were very focused on the design (who wouldn't be?) of the maze, but were not thinking about magnetism yet. You will hear in this video how they were designing without a real sense of what materials would work. Later, I discussed with them why cardboard was a good base for their maze, and they were able to describe that cardboard is not attracted to a magnet, but that magnetism could pass through it from the bottom to a metal car on the top. 

In this second video, I was able to help students refine their description of their design by using the correct terms. Although it is obvious to me that they understand the concept of induced magnetism, I also want them to be able to clearly communicate their knowledge, so I prompt and review with them. 

As these students explained their maze to me, I worked, again, with them on ways to be more precise in their explanation of their knowledge. They were actually discussing magnetic attraction and they were using that knowledge well. (The erasers are magnetic). I think, though their design was simple, it was brilliantly successful!

This student was able to discuss induced magnetism to me, but my filming is not so great. I review with him the term and definition of a temporary magnet. I love Mickey Mouse!

Sharing and Closing

5 minutes

As you might guess, as a closing, I will allow the students to circulate the room and observe and play with the designs of their classmates. We had sculptures, bobble heads, mazes, and a tool to retrieve lost items. 

Following the tour, I will call the students to the community area quickly and have them discuss any revisions they would make if there was time. 

This is a critical step in science, or any area, as it allows the thinker to fine tune and be more precise.