Day 38: Magnetic Fields & Vector Addition

Physical Science: Magnetic Fields

To introduce magnetic fields, I had students play around with a bar magnet, some filings, and a compass. Several groups were really fascinated by the compass, and there was a lot of discussion about why the north indicator on the compass go would to the south pole of the magnet. I also decided we need to revisit forces tomorrow. A group noticed that the magnet made some of the filings stand straight up and was trying to figure out why, which was great! The problem is the best why they could come up with is “magnets break gravity.” I’m pretty sure students just don’t have the idea of balanced forces well enough to come up with the idea that the magnet must exert a force to balance gravity.


“Magnets break gravity”

Physics: Vector Addition

After yesterday’s practice drawing vector addition diagrams, students combined the diagrams with calculations to solve more traditional word problems. I gave them a few goal-less problems, which simply describe a situation without asking for anything in particular. My students don’t have a lot of experience with these (at least not yet!), but I like the way they encourage students to play with models to see what they can come up with, rather than getting fixated on the right answer. They really reinforce physics as a creative, sometimes playful, process.

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