First Graders Learn about Magnets with Carla Ramsdell

Monday, March 21, 2016 - 9:38pm

Carla Ramsdell, engineer with the Department of Physics and Astronomy at AppState, often visits classrooms around the county with her bag of tricks. This time it was Ms. Meredith Boggs and Ms. Anne Donadio’s 1st Grade classes at Cove Creek. She was invited to speak to the student about what magnets are and how they work.

With students from both classes waiting eagerly and very quietly on the rug in the center of the classroom, Ms. Ramsdell introduced herself and started her presentation by talking about what science is, what it means to be a scientist and the different types of scientists. She told stories about her “scientist friends”, some men, some women and their varied lab and field research. By using real people in the community, Ms. Ramsdell addresses some of the misconceptions held by students of all ages of scientists as old men with crazy hair and lab coats mixing liquids and creating explosions in a messy lab.

Ms. Ramdell then went on to discuss sources of magnets and to show the students different magnetic materials: from hematite rocks, to big horseshoe magnets to very powerful neodymium magnets that attract together even with a hand between them. She did a great simulation of why some materials are magnetic and others aren’t using the kids as metallic molecules. Watch it below!

To make the topic more relatable to students, Ms. Ramsdell brought up a wide variety of magnetic toys from Thomas the Trains, Magna Doodle, compasses, and even The Littlest Petshop. The group also brainstormed other uses of magnets such as for reading money, electromagnets in junk yards and fast trains.

The lesson aligned with NCESS NC 1.P.1 Understand how forces (pushes or pulls) affect the motion of an object (1.P.1.1. Explain the importance of a push or a pull to changing the motion of an object; 1.P.1.2. Explain how some forces (pushes and pulls) can be used to make things move without touching them such as magnets; 1.P.1.3. Predict the effect of a given force on the motion of an object, including balanced forces), as well as NGSS PS2A. Forces and Motion, PS2B. Types of Interactions.