What Are Magnets?
Experiment with different kinds of
magnets and investigate magnetic attraction
Classify objects as are/are not attracted
Experiment with "push and pull" and
the magnets' poles
What happens when two like poles are
together? Do they attract or repel each other?
Does rough handling of the magnet (like
taping the magnet or wrapping paper or cloth around the magnet) make the
Experiment with magnetic compasses and make your own compasses*
Experiment with iron filings and various magnets to discover magnetic
fields and lines of force
Experiment with audiocassette tapes (Important: use
unwanted tapes) and magnets to investigate a magnet's power to damage electrical
Experiment with long chains of paper
clips and a strong magnet:
How long can the chain retain
its magnetic pull?
magnetize a needle, you must stroke it with a magnet about 50 times in
one direction. The magnetized needle may be taped to the top of a
flat cork, floated in a bowl of water, and then labeled north and south
poles by using a magnetic compass to check which end of the needle points
II. What Is Electricity? What Can Electricity
recorded their observations of all things that use electricity. Students
maintained a journal to record all observations, reflections, and writing
pieces. In addition, students kept all of their lab sheets and other
handouts in pocket folders. Initial writing activity was to describe
all the things (i.e. household appliances) in their homes that use electricity,
and what would a day be like without
using any of these things, or without electricity.
developed a "KWL" (know/what/learned) chart, listing what they know about electricity and magnetism and what
they wanted to find out about it. At the conclusion of the unit, the chart was completed with what they learned about
simple electrical circuits using light bulbs, batteries (D-cell batteries),
and wire (electricity kits): "Make the light bulb light"
Students also observed that electricity produces heat and light.
Constructing simple circuits using 2
light bulbs: students began using symbols to represent the different
parts of an electric circuit. They also investigated any changes
in brightness of the bulbs with different circuits (using two batteries
or two bulbs).
Experimenting with conductors and insulators:
Experimenting with switches in the electrical
Exploring series and parallel circuits:
students built and diagrammed series and parallel circuits, learning to
identify the difference between the circuits. The following sites
are excellent for background information, directions, and details:
Circuits and The Keystone
Students experimented with static electricity
by rubbing balloons on wool cloth and their hair.
They constructed paper "bugs" (small
pieces of colored paper in shallow boxes with plastic lids). By rubbing
the lid with a cloth, a static charge is created and the "bugs danced"
as they moved their fingers across the lid.
static electricity experiment involved using a charged balloon and holding
it next to a thin stream of dripping water.
water will bend toward the balloon. The electric field around the
balloon pulls things toward it.
III. What Are Electromagnets?
Go back to the Harcourt Teacher Leadership Center main page.
Students made electromagnets using a
9-volt battery and wire wrapped around a nail.
They also attached a switch to their
electromagnets, and compared and contrasted temporary magnets and permanent
They experimented with the strength of
the magnet by winding more wire around the nail or by using a different
type of battery.
Using thermometers, students observed
and recorded the temperatures of the simple electrical circuits (bulb and
batteries) and the electromagnets.
researched and wrote reports about Ben Franklin and the colonial period. Information was accessed from the classroom library (many nonfiction books
and encyclopedias) and the Internet. The Franklin Institute's website
on Ben Franklin is
a great site.
They located and researched historical
places in Philadelphia and nearby areas, such as the Ben Franklin Parkway,
Ben Franklin Bridge, Franklin Mint, and The Franklin Institute.
They constructed "T" charts comparing
the lives of children in the colonial period and present.
They constructed timelines of important
events and inventions in the life of Ben Franklin.
Writing Assessments and Creative Activities
Narrative writing activity about their
trip to The Franklin Institute with illustrations: "Our Trip to The Franklin
Institute Science Museum"
Culminating writing activity: What
do you remember most from our study about magnets and electricity?
What was your favorite activity? Why? What do you remember
about Benjamin Franklin? What would you tell a friend about magnetism
and electricity? Explain how you can make an electromagnet.
Students drew illustrations of Franklin's
inventions and scenes depicting important events, either of Franklin's
life or the colonial period. These scenes included descriptions and
Illustration of one of the exhibits in the Electricity Hall
at The Franklin Institute
A fun activity was designing and completing
crossword and word search puzzles.
Generous founding support for the Harcourt
Teacher Leadership Center and the Harcourt Learning Labs was provided by
the Harcourt General Charitable Foundation on behalf of Harcourt, Inc.