Magnets and Gravity
1. Magnets Can Find and Attract Iron Ore
Bring sand inside the classroom and place in a shallow tray. Have children use magnets to drag through the sand. The magnets will attract the iron particles in the sand and pick them up. Examine the iron filings under a magnifying glass.
2. Gravity Pulls Everything Back to Earth
Introduce the concept of gravity and prepare the children to be scientists. Let them know they are going to do a scientific experiment. Take several balls and bean bags of varying sizes outside. Let children take turns throwing the balls and bean bags into the air. Can anyone make their ball or bean bag stay up in space? Why not?
3. All Things Feel the Pull of Gravity, Even Very Light Things
Give each child a feather and see how long they can keep the feather afloat before gravity brings it back to earth. Have them blow on the feather or use a fan to do the same activity with air filled balloons.
4. Magnets Work on Certain Metal
Provide children with a collection of interesting small things, like paper clips, nails and safety pins that respond to magnets. Using a magnet, have children sort items by things that the magnet can move, and then those things magnets cannot move.
5. Gravity Works On Everything in the World
Roll a ball on the ground and see how far the ball travels before it stops. Take a ball and roll the ball down the playground slide. The ball also rolls until it stops. Now take a ball and roll it up the slide. Watch as it stops and then rolls on back. It is gravity that is pulling the ball back to earth.
6. Magnets Can Pull and Push
Use two bar magnets.
(Note: All bar magnets have a north pole and a south pole and most are marked by initials "n" and "s" or are color coded.) "Unlike" poles always attract each other. (North-South) "Alike" poles always repel each other. Have children experiment with the two magnets. They should try pushing "alike" poles together. Have them pull "unlike" poles apart.
(Note: Do not drop magnets, because they will lose their magnetic strength.)
7. Some Magnets Are Strong Enough to Work Under Water
Make a fishing pole by using a piece of wood dowel. Tie a strong magnet to the string. Attach the string to the pole. Cut small fish out of paper or plastic. Attach a large paper clip to each fish. Use a clear plastic shoe box filled with water as the lake. Add the fish. Let's go fishing. Magnets work through water.
Reprinted with the permission of PBS. © PBS 2003 - 2008, all rights reserved.