Applied Science - Physics (KB)
Lab 

   
OBJECTIVES:
  • Discovering which objects repel or attract each other.
  • Exploring magnetism.

VOCABULARY:

  • attract
  • magnet
  • metal
  • repel
MATERIALS:

Students play with magnets.

BACKGROUND:

There are only 3 metals that are naturally magnetic including nickel, cobalt, and iron. Many other metals are attracted by magnets. The magnets that are included in the kit are made of Alnico (aluminum, nickel, and cobalt, which are considered permanent magnets (i.e. does not lose its magnetism).

The more time you allow the children to discover magnets, the more they will understand on their own about the magic. Magnetism is a force that must be experienced in order to discuss it in later grades. They can now understand the power of magnetism by feeling the power of the magnets.

PROCEDURE:

  1. In your module you have magnetic wands,  ring magnets, and magnetic marbles. If you do not have the module, you can substitute different items. We suggest enough magnets so children can play.
      
  2. Give each child one of each magnet, and have them discover the power of magnetism. First let them play with the items by themselves for about 10 minutes. Then let them work with a partner. Emphasize keeping the magnets away from a computer or television.
      
  3. After they play for about 20-25 minutes, bring them together and discuss what they have discovered.
      
  4. Hopefully students will have discovered:
      
    a. The magnetic wands are the most powerful. You can pick up the rings and marbles with the wand.
    b. If you put rings on a pencil in the correct way the rings will appear to float. 
    c. You can play a "game" of moving the rings around by using the wands and not touching the rings.
    d. You can balance a ring on the thin side of the wand and it moves very quickly.
    e. Magnetic marbles have to be arranged in a certain way to balance a stack.
      
  5. We do not recommend the use of magnetic iron files. Since they are iron and very small they can easily get into studentís eye, especially if you have an unruly class. You can use iron files if you put them into a plastic bag (4 ml) and have students use them in the bag. However, iron clips, small pieces of metal, or other magnets are much safer.

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