Experiment Title: Inspector Detector
Our experiment involved exploring the force of both magnets and magnetic fields. Before beginning our experiment we needed to get a little bit of background information on magnets, their force, and their uses. With this in mind we did a mini lesson on magnets and magnetism. We learned that in order for an object to be attracted to a magnet it must contain either iron, nickel or cobalt.
As part of our mini lesson, we carried out a magnetic object hunt in the classroom. First we made predictions about which objects we thought would be attracted to the magnets and then we went around the classroom with magnets in our hand and tested the objects on our prediction list. We discovered that objects that had a ‘pull’ or ‘attraction’ to the magnet were magnetic and therefore must have contained either iron, nickel or cobalt. Some of our predictions were correct, and some objects we thought would be attracted to the magnets weren’t, which was a surprise for us!
We then moved on to starting our experiment. We looked at magnetometres and discussed how we thought they worked. After lots of talking and thinking, we began to create our planetscape which acted to replicate the surface on a planet with a warm molten core (the churning molten lava creates the Earth’s magnetic field). We added gridlines to our planetscape in order for us to be able to pinpoint where we thought there may be some magnets underneath the planetscape. The job of the magnets was to replicate the magnetic field created by the Earth’s core.
Once we had made our Planetscape and teacher hid the magnets underneath, we made predictions as to where we thought the magnets may have been located. Then it was time to test out our magnetometre. We made our magnetometre out of cardboard, paper, string and tape. We placed a small amount of steel wool onto our magnetometre and then went in search of magnetic fields.
We were so excited when we saw the metal shards roll about on the detector when we hit a magnetic field. We were able to explain that the magnetic field was causing the shards to roll around and be pulled into the field. In order to keep our test fair, we also carried out the experiment with string (non-magnetic) instead of the metal shards. The magnetic field had no effect on the string cuttings.
We really enjoyed doing this experiment and getting the chance to learn about magnets, magnetic fields, and the force that magnets have.