Monday, October 24, 2011

Annotated Bib - Magnetism

Learning about magnets is a hands-on process. Students can read all about magnets and their properties but the best way for full comprehension is by experimenting with magnets. These books and websites are great for grades 1-4 because they help spark curiosity about magnets and give kids a greater understanding of how and why magnets do what they do. For my lesson, I wanted a good mix of experiments, interactive games, and fun quizzes. The below books and sites cover all of that ground in a fun and exciting way that is sure to keep kids engaged and give them a comprehensive understanding of magnetism.

Books to Teach Magnetism

The Magic School Bus: Amazing Magnetism
By Rebecca Carmi. Illustrated by John Speirs. 2002. 192p. Scholastic Paperbacks. (978-0439314329). Gr. Pre-K to 3.

Introducing the entire Magic School Bus series into the classroom is a great way to engage students and get them excited about science. Each book in the series is a story book centered around a zany teacher, Mrs. Frizzle and her quirky but memorable lessons. In Amazing Magnetism, her students create a compass out of their classroom, go on a scavenger hunt for fun facts about magnets, and (in a fantastical moment typical of the Magic School Bus series) actually become iron fillings and stick to a magnet. The story is told from the perspective of one of the students and is a great introduction to science experiments involving magnets. Students will, of course, understand that they can’t board the Magic School Bus and be shrunk down into iron fillings but they will be able to do experiments similar to those in the book. Reading this book in language arts is a fantastic way of getting students excited about learning about magnetism and eager to experiment like the students in the story.

Magnetic Magic: Magic Tricks Done With Magnets By John Cassidy and Paul Doherty. 1994. 68p. Klutz. (978-1878257864). Gr. Pre-K - 3.
This is a classic Klutz experiment book that comes with various magnets to use for each magic trick. The book is quirky from the get-go, talking about the "ghosts" that live inside magnets. Of course, it goes on to explain that these "ghosts" are simply atoms and sub-atomic particles but it does a wonderful job of relating scientific concepts to ideas that children are more likely to understand. The magnet experiments within the book are more complex and definitely more "magical" than the experiments in the rest of the book so it's a great way to end a lesson once students have had some experience with simpler magnet experiments. The book not only shows you how to do each magic trick but explains the science behind it as well. Lastly, the cover of the book is made of metal and is involved in a few of the tricks too, which is an amusing feature for kids.

Magnets: Pulling Together, Pushing Apart
By Natalie M. Rosinsky. Illustrated by Sheree Boyd. 2006. 24p. Picture Window Books. (978-1404803336). Gr. Pre-K - 3.
This is a very straightforward book on magnets featuring bright images and simple experiments. As students read, they can do the experiments on their own with household items such as paper clips, nails, and steel spoons. The book does a great job of breaking down the most important facts about magnets and illustrating them. It also covers a lot of ground including the basics about magnetism, the earth’s magnetism, and compasses. The book would be a great addition to a science station in the classroom because of how easy it is to follow and how basic the experiments are. Students could also make observations about their experiments by answering the questions provided by the book (e.g. “when you pull the nail away from the magnet, does the paper clip still cling to the nail?”).

Rescuing Einsten’s Compass By Shulamith Levey Oppenheim. Illustrated by George Juhasz. 2003. 32p. Crocodile Books. (978-1566565073). Gr. Pre-K to 3.
This is a story about a young boy who is introduced one day to the "most famous man alive", Albert Einstein. The boy spends an afternoon sailing with Einsten as he learns what a physicist does and how a compass inspired Einstein to spend his life solving mysteries with science. If kids already recognize Einsten's name, they'll be intrigued by how inspired Einsten was by his first compass. If they don't know who Einstein is, it's a great introduction to the famous physicist and they'll be able to relate to his childhood epiphany about magnets. The story is another great cross-curricular book for use in both language arts and science class.

What Makes A Magnet? By Franklyn M. Branley. Illustrated by True Kelley. 1996. 32p. Collins. (978-0064451482). Gr. Pre-K to 3.
This is a simple book with great illustrations involving a girl and a mouse. It's better for younger grades as a introduction to learning about magnets as it covers all the basics. Readers can either read the book to learn about magnets or try out the experiments as they read. It even contains a simple instructional on creating your own compass. The book does a great job of explaining earth's magnetism versus the moon's magnetism as well as how people use compasses in their everyday lives. It covers everything from the science behind magnetism to the history of magnets and is a great resource for younger students just discovering the power of magnets.

Useful Websites
Activity TV: Compass Craft
Activity TV is a website featuring instructional videos for kids. This particular video is great for a teacher to use in class because it demonstrates a simple way to create a compass. Kids are accustomed to seeing compasses as professionally-made devices and it’s easy for them to overlook the simplicity behind them. By making their own compasses with a Styrofoam plate, a needle, a magnet, and a tray of water, they can better understand the fundamentals of a compass and what makes it work.

BBC KS2 Bitesized: Magnets
In this interactive game, players need to use their knowledge of magnets to prevent a thief from stealing priceless treasures. The spy theme and high quality graphics make this a really appealing game. Kids are challenged to recall what they know about magnets (though a slight refresher is given before each round) and then they must choose which magnet and which pole on that magnet to attract the treasure in the room before the thief comes in and snatches it. The magnet area of the site also contains further reading on magnets as well as a quiz.

BBC School Science Clips: Magnets & Springs
Another interactive game from the BBC, this is simpler than the spy game. Players get to experiment with different size magnets and use a spring to propel them different distances. There are choices of different materials (some metal, some non-metal) that kids can try to pick up using the magnet. It's a good way of showing the different magnets that are necessary for attracting items of various sizes and there are many combinations of experimentation students can do in the activity. Once players are finished playing around with the interactive part, a quiz follows that relates to the activity.

Brain Pop: Magnetism

Brain Pop is a fantastic interactive site for kids. It requires membership but kids can sign up for a free 14 day trial. The area focusing on Magnetism contains a great cartoon demonstrating how and why magnets work and even a little history into how magnets were discovered and where they got their name. After the cartoon is over, kids can explore the rest of the features focusing on magnets that include activities, a Q&A, quizzes, experiments, and a great area called FYI. This is a fun section because it contains tidbits kids wouldn’t normally learn in a textbook like why you shouldn’t eat magnets and how animals use magnets too. The entire site is very user friendly for kids and has plenty of fun sound effects and cartoons to keep them engaged.

Hot Chalk's Lesson Plans Page: A science lesson on magnets

Hot Chalk has a few lesson plans on teaching magnetism. I chose this one in particular because it contains a lot of great questions students can use for recording their observations. It focuses mainly on the idea that the repelling force between like poles on a magnet is greater than the force of gravity. Students test this theory in various ways using a pencil and ring magnets. In the suggestions at the end of the lesson for extending it, there's an idea to add puppets to the top magnet and make them bounce in a puppet show. I love the idea of mixing science with the arts. With many magnet experiments, science can feel isolated but by integrating it into other activities, kids are able to see how they can use it in their everyday lives.

Teacher Information
Virginia Standards of Learning: 2.2
The student will investigate and understand that natural and artificial magnets have certain characteristics and attract specific types of metals. Key concepts include
a)    magnetism, iron, magnetic/nonmagnetic, poles, attract/repel; and
b)    important applications of magnetism including the magnetic compass.

The concepts developed in this standard include the following:
•    Magnets can attract objects made of iron or nickel.
•    Magnets can be artificially made from special metals or can occur naturally. Naturally occurring magnets are composed of a mineral called magnetite (lodestone).
•    When a magnetized metal, such as a compass needle, is allowed to swing freely, it displays the interesting property of aligning with the Earth’s magnetic fields.
•    Magnets have a north and a south pole.
•    Unlike magnetic poles attract, and like poles repel.
•    Magnets have important applications and uses in everyday life.

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