Tuesday 18 June 2013

Science: What attracts to a magnet?

 This is a really simple and easy experiment to try...

You can just experiment and talk or you might like to make a table for your little one to fill in or let them make their own if they like.  However what is essential is...

  • A magnet (we used a bar magnet)
  • 7 or 8 different objects - we used a metal ruler, a toy car, scissors, a penny, keys, a coke can and a cork but other things like aluminum foil, copper wire, a glass marble, iron nail, paper, steel ball bearing, wooden matches, etc. are all great too.
You will need to do this test on a wooden table because it isn't attracted to metal and to keep it a fair test.

We hypothesised what would happen first.  Honi wrote down eagerly what she thought would happen. 

Remember a hypothesis is just a guess - with hypothesis it doesn't matter if they guess incorrectly.  When they are wrong and discover for themselves what the answer really is, to them, it is even more exciting from my experience of working with science around children.  The more we hypothesise  in our house, the less anxious the girls are, Honi in particular, about getting things right all the time.  It's good to know it's ok to be wrong so long as you are searching for the truth in science, that is what really matters. 
After your hypothesising you can get on with the practise.  I always let Honi lead with this sort of thing.  Sometimes she works in order other times not.  The most important thing, like all things when we're learning, is to keep it fun!

You will notice that the magnet will not stick to all the objects.  Why not? Well...

All materials are made up of tiny bits of matter called atoms, the smallest tinciest part of an iron nail is an atom of iron and the tinciest tiniest bit of a marble is an atom of glass and so on.  You might think that all metal objects will attract to a magnet but this is not true, only materials containing iron, steel, cobalt or nickel attracts to a magnet.
Other ways you can do this is letting the child picks at least 7 objects up from around the house of different materials and see if they attract to their magnet.  Don't worry if none will attract to the magnet, you can talk about why it doesn't and help them search for things that will.  Don't worry if they all do, pick a couple of things that don't and talk about it that way round instead.

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