The Magnet Derbyby: Richard Konicek-Moran

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Magnetism is a force that acts over a distance. Children play with magnetic toys all of the time. Any family that has a refrigerator knows that the number of magnets on the door defines the size of the appliance. This story should give students an opportunity to test some of their conceptions about magnets, namely what they will attract, their strengths, their interactions with each other, and how they are used in everyday life. It also allows for a great deal of investigation, testing of hypotheses, and drawing of conclusions.

  • Elementary
  • Middle
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Reviews (2)
  • on Sat Dec 09, 2017 12:09 PM

The chapter called The Magnet Derby from the book More Everyday Science Mysteries: Stories for Inquiry-based Science Teaching is all about using the story of helping a young girl discover and understand magnetism through scientific exploration. As a teacher, I can appreciate that the writing is laid out with the story at the beginning and then possible activities are broken down by grade levels. I also find it useful that after the story, there are background facts about magnetism that a teacher can share with their students to set the stage for an activity. The fact that this chapter includes ideas for different grade levels can also be useful as a way to differentiate instruction within a single class, perhaps assigning a more challenging activity to students at higher levels. One thing that would have made this chapter a little more appealing to me would be to include examples of the charts that are described. Overall, this chapter on discovering magnetism effectively uses the seemingly mysterious nature of magnets being able to physically move another object without touching them, to motivate a student to make their own hypothesis and test it. I feel this creates a science lesson where the student is able to take ownership of their learning and make it more meaningful to them

Juan Fiscal
Juan Fiscal

  • on Sun Nov 20, 2011 7:56 PM

I first discovered this series a few years ago when NSTA would give members free chapters. Since then, a couple more books have been added to "Uncovering Student Ideas in Science". There are always a plethora of 5-8th grade level extension and activity ideas along with lists of misconceptions and ideas on ways to engage the student to learn the often confusing, scientific explanation. I feel the introductory stories that are meant to "hook" our students are a bit primary in nature - not upper elem/middle level - and often I don't read them the way they are written.

Alyce Dalzell  (Peyton, CO)
Alyce Dalzell (Peyton, CO)

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