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Video:3 Activities for Teaching Magnets

with Milo De Prieto

Teaching magnets and how they work to homeschooling students in an interesting way can be difficult. Here are three great activities for teaching magnets in an engaging manner.See Transcript

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Transcript:3 Activities for Teaching Magnets

Hello I'm Milo for About.com and today were talking about three activities for teaching magnets. Do these activities with the student initially together. Then as the student gains mastery, they can become independent work.

Create a Lesson Goal When Teaching Magnets

The first step in creating any lesson activity is answering the question "what do you want the student to walk away with?" For these kinds of activities, it's best if the student has a learning journal or notebook on the subject. When doing the activities with the student, make sure to model what a successful learner does. These activities are a warm up for more in-depth study. To take them further you would perform actual scientific experiments or begin to work with the formulas on magnetism and electricity.

Use an Object Sort to Teach Magnets

In this activity the student is going to perform a simple sort but rather than using words, they will use objects. Preparation: collect a few small objects some that are magnetic (have iron) and some that aren't, and maybe some that are a little magnetic.

  • Using a magnet the student sees if each object is magnetic, not magnetic, or a little magnetic.
  • The findings are written down in the student's journal.
  • Discuss why the objects are magnetic, perhaps focusing on the presence of iron.
  • Extension activity: Have the student continue the sort with larger objects around the room or house, recording all findings in the learning journal.

Try a Magnetic Field Activity to Teach Magnets

This exercise is an opportunity to visualize and play with an actual magnetic field, identifying the difference between the polarity of magnets. Preparation: for materials you will need a couple simple bar magnets. You can also include refrigerator magnets, and anything you might have from a toy.

1. Start by talking about magnetic fields. You can incorporate:

  • Discussion of the earth's magnetic field
  • Ask questions about the difference of gravity vs. the earth magnetic field
  • Discuss magnetism and what happens when an item comes into the field of a magnet
  • Have the student trace a visualization of the magnetic field of the magnet on a piece of paper

2. Begin to discuss polarity:

  • Use two magnets to show the repel affect of polarity
  • Discuss polarity and Earth's poles
  • Use the tracing from before to talk about one side being the south and one side the north pole of the magnet

3. Have the student write any a-ha moments, follow up questions, and ideas in their learning journal.

MRI Field Trips Can Teach Magnets

The idea is to go to a local clinic and see magnetism at work in real life. This is not possible for everyone and you may have to tailor the idea to what is possible for you. If you can't physically go to a clinic, do a virtual field trip and read about it.

  1. Before the trip talk a little about what an MRI machine does at a level appropriate to the student. This should merely be introductory, such as comparing it to an X-ray. Example: X-ray Image -- an image that looks like a photographic negative made using special radioactive waves. MRI Image -- an image made using a magnetic field.
  2. Think of 3 things you'd like to learn about MRI. The student should prepare 3 questions for a technician or for the reading if a virtual trip.
  3. Record the answers in the learning journal.

Tips for Ending Lessons on State Capitals

At the end of every lesson, review if or to what extent the student reached the goal and celebrate that. If you did not reach the whole goal, you have something to focus on next time.These lessons can be scaffolded up or down and returned to for further learning.

For more information and helps on teaching, check us out at About.com.

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