Wednesday, November 30, 2011

magnets inquiry

Divisions 8 and 9 have been doing a science study of magnets for the last few weeks. Near the beginning of their study, both classes spent some time in the library working through some magnet exploration stations.

The students were asked to focus on the inquiry question "What can you find out about magnets?" as they explored different materials with magnets. There were discovery bottles, paperclip races, making faces with iron filings and exploring the strength of different magnets. At the end of our time together, the students shared some of their findings.

In their classrooms, the students kept track of what they had been learning and also what they wondered about as they did several science investigations with their teachers. Today, both classes brought their "we're still wondering about" questions about magnets to the library. Many of these questions could not be answered by "doing" science but instead involved researching and reading for information. We went online to and used the Kids version of this site to search for an article on magnets.
As we read through it together, many of the students' inquiry questions were answered around concepts such as invisible forces and magnetic fields and how magnets attract or repel each other. The site did not give the specific information about what metals magnets attract so we then googled this question and read a few different sites which all confirmed that iron, nickel and cobalt were magnetic.

The students still had some questions about how magnets really work. We looked at the book, What Makes a Magnet? and found some diagrams that showed how the internal structure of a magnet looks.

A sense of wonder is such an important thing for students to have. It contributes to critical thinking, creativity, curiousity and a tendency to persevere with learning. Whether students are exploring with magnets and paperclips or reading information about scientific concepts, an inquiring mind will take them places!

~Ms Novakowski

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