Monday, November 11, 2019

Magnetism Lab

I'm here to share an idea for students to explore magnetism.

Magnets are something that students have seen since kindergarten. By the time they get to 5th grade, most know that some things are attracted to a magnet.

The biggest misconception I've seen is students thinking that all metals are magnetic.

To set up this lab, collect a variety of objects. Make sure to included metals and nonmetals, and included both metals that are magnetic and non magnetic.

  • Some objects made of metal that are nonmagnetic: penny, key aluminum foil. 

  • Some objects made of metal that are magnetic: paper clip, an iron nail, iron filings

  • Also include various non-metal items: marble, rubber band, plastic toy, etc. 

This a is a lab where the teacher should do very little. You supply the materials, tell students to predict if an object is magnetic, and then test it.

Here is a lab sheet for students to fill out as they experiment.

After the students finish testing the items, ask them if they can determine if an object is magnetic or not without using a magnet.

You want the students to at least get to the point where they say only metals are magnetic--but not all metals.

Share with students what the metal objects are made of. Can they find a pattern and determine what makes a metal magnetic?

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