This inquiry unit takes students through a sequence of lessons where they make observations and conduct investigations to provide evidence that energy can be transformed and moved from place to place by electric currents to power circuits and create magnetic fields. This kit shares many connections with the RAFT Electrical Engineering kit designed for middle school students. The unit begins with an empathy lesson that connects the importance of magnets to our modern lives. The define lessons dive into core concepts of magnetism and demonstrate the relationship between electricity and magnetism. The ideate, prototype, and test phases of the design thinking model are combined in a final design challenge where students apply their learning of electromagnetism concepts to build a unique device that powers an LED.
- Students will create a presentation demonstrating how magnetism affects their lives
- Students will identify magnetic and non-magnetic items and investigate the magnetic force strength of ring magnets
- Students will build a floating compass and use it to investigate the relationship between electricity and magnetism
- Students will build a simple generator and spinning motor, demonstrating how magnetism causes electrons to flow
- Students will collaboratively design, test, and refine their own unique generator or motor that will power an LED
Students learn and apply scientific concepts on electricity and magnetism throughout the unit. The first lesson allows students to leverage technology in conducting research and developing a digital or poster presentation to define problems that can be solved by applying scientific ideas about magnets (NGSS 3-PS2-4). Lessons 2-4 provide opportunities for students to apply mathematical reasoning and measurement as well as investigation and observation skills while they use build generators and motors to provide evidence that energy can be transferred from place to place by electric currents (NGSS 4-PS3-2). The culminating design challenge brings students through the engineering design process as they apply scientific ideas to design, test, and refine a generator or motor that will power an LED (NGSS 4-PS3-4). This also gives students the freedom to iterate, think mathematically, and artistically express themselves through the use of various materials.