I review the safety instructions for the students and then explain that today I will be working with them in small groups at a table so that I can supervise them as they use stronger magnets. Today I expect them to continue to refine their observations about the magnets. It is mandatory that they wear safety goggles. Most students follow the rules but I cannot take the risk that someone will get carried away with excitement and “throw” too many of these powerful magnets together at once, in which case they can move with surprising speed and force. I also require the students who wish to hold some of the stronger magnets to wear thick work gloves. It makes it harder for them to manipulate the magnets but prevents tiny fingers from being pinched. I pinched myself trying to pry apart several magnets and it bled. I would evaluate the use of the super strong magnets on a student-by-student or class-by-class basis. It worked for me this year but there is no guarantee that I will use them with next year’s class. Safety must come first!
These are the questions I post for students to be thinking about as we work with the stronger magnets:
Note: I purchased all these materials on my own. Here are some ideas for purchasing magnets.
Here is an example of how I structure their “work” with these magnets.
In this part of the lesson, the students who have already been at the Magnet Table now write and diagram some of their observations. Additionally, I ask them to list any questions they have about what they observed. Finally, I remind them that our end goal is to think of a simple problem that we could solve using magnetic force.
The students were having difficulty writing about their observations with sufficient clarity so next time I teach this lesson I will provide them with these sentence stems to prompt more accurate reflection.