Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Learning to Be a Scientist: Week 2, Day 2

Continuing Learning to Be a Scientist: the second concept is "Scientists sort items and name categories;" the second activity is "Is It Magnetic?"

I was better prepared this time! :)

We reviewed what we knew about magnets and then I gave the kids some items. They sorted them into groups of which they predicted would stick to magnets and those they thought wouldn't. I was surprised to see they didn't think many things would stick to the magnets.

Predicted to stick to a magnet
Predicted not to stick

They then tested each item with a nice, strong magnet and re-sorted them into new groups, learning the term "magnetic." Then Builder Boy and George did the activity worksheet and circled the pictures of things that were magnetic and crossed out those that were not. Early Bird just colored his pictures. After the worksheets they went on a magnetic scavenger hunt and had to find two things that were magnetic and one thing that was not. Then we played around with the magnets. I showed them toys that had magnets hidden in them and proved that they had magnets by using them to pick up items we now knew were magnetic. We watched paper clips jump off the table to stick to the magnets (does that ever get old?) Then I showed them the repulsive abilities of magnets and we made other magnets jump and move without touching them. That gave me an idea. We had a magnet race!

Ready, set,...


Builder Boy and George started with a magnet at one edge of the play table and they had to get another magnet to the other side of the table without touching it. After a few goes I gave them different strength magnets to race with. One hardly repulsed the second magnet at all, while the other one did well. Then I had them switch and race again, and then asked them to tell me which magnet was stronger. It was a lot of fun.
PBSKids.com has some really cool Sid the Science Kid videos and games. The Collection Jar game has kids sorting materials and using a magnet, just like our activity today!

A note on magnets:

1) Magnets are also used in the last concept: "Scientists conduct investigations," activity "Will a Magnet Work Through Other Materials?"

2) I wasn't sure where to get magnets that we could work and test with. I didn't want to buy a magnet set online, as the only ones I saw were more than I wanted, and more than I wanted to spend. But I wanted something stronger than the weak refrigerator magnets that we had. I finally found them at the hardware store. So if you're like me and didn't know where to get them I hope I've saved you some driving around. :)


  1. That looks like a great hands on learning project you have going. Btw, My daughter would love to get her hand on those scissors!

  2. This was a great activity for Builder Boy. He's a very kinetic learner and the physical aspect is wonderful. I love that it had them guess first and then discover for themselves if something was magnetic or not. Early Bird (3 years old) wasn't thrilled to not be allowed to use the scissors at cut and paste time.


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