Can Trains Really Float? by: Robin Ward McCartney, Sarah Deroche, and Danielle Pontiff

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Have you ever heard of a Maglev train? Who would be crazy enough to think that exploring how a high-tech train little known in the United States works with a group of fourth-grade students would yield understandings about the properties of magnetism, force and motion, and inquiry science? Fortunately, the authors—a college methods professor and two elementary education students—were, and the hands-on exploration they developed and tested with their students was a resounding success. Their highly motivating learning adventure is described here.

  • Elementary
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Reviews (2)
  • on Fri May 13, 2011 10:48 AM

This is a fun activity to teach elementary children about magnetism and its use in transportation. The hand-on activity is simple, effective and low cost. An assessment rubric is not included and would need to be developed by the teacher. This activity could easily be incorporated into an inquiry based lesson plan.


  • on Sun Nov 14, 2010 7:19 PM

While innovations in transportation are sure to affect today's students, the introduction of Maglev at the elementary level is questionable. Students of this age are concrete learners and the Maglev concept is likely beyond their reach, While the models do show "floating" trains, the connection to scientific principles is beyond the grasp of elementary students; a fact the impairs the utility of this activity as a science lesson.

Pamela Auburn
Pamela Auburn

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