We did a quick science unit this week on magnets. We used pieces from the Evan Moor Giant Science Resource Book, Evan Moor Science Experiments for Young Learners, and this magnet kit from Lakeshore Learning.
We started by discussing how magnets have poles, and that like poles repel while opposite poles attract. We took two bar magnets (actually from our rock and mineral test kit), tried to push them together, and felt the resistance when we tried to touch the same poles.
Next we tested a variety of objects to see if they were magnetic. We had paper clips, binder rings, a key, crayon, pencil, pompom, button, chalk, bobby pin, and nail.
We then added a few more metal objects – coins, tacks, and a piece of aluminum foil – and discovered that not all metal objects are magnetic.
Next we tested the strength of our various magnets. Using an experiment sheet from the Lakeshore kit, we placed a magnet at one end of a ruler, then slowly pushed a binder ring closer and closer until it was drawn to the magnet. We found our large bar magnet was the strongest and our ring magnet was the weakest, at least when it was laid down on one side. When stood upright so one of the poles faced the ring, it was much stronger. This led into a discussion about how the poles of a magnet were the strongest part.
We discussed how the earth is a giant magnet and that a compass worked by being attracted to the North Pole.
We put a magnet close to the compass and watched how the needle swung around.
We tested our magnets to see if they could make things move through various materials, such as paper, cloth, a wood popsicle stick and a glass.
We finished up with reading two books about magnets, the guidebook that came with our Lakeshore Learning kit and the Let’s Read and Find Out What Makes a Magnet?
Both books had good information in them. What Makes a Magnet? is more of an experiment book than informational. If you are not prepared to pull out a bunch of stuff and do the experiments, it’s probably not a good first choice to read. We skimmed through a lot of it since we had just completed the experiments.
The Magnets book from our kit was more descriptive but was a little dated. My kids didn’t know what the picture of a video tape was.