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MOVIE 1:   3 minutes 57 seconds

Designing Your ElectroMagnet Lessons

In MOVIE 1, Nancy talks from her experiences as a science teacher who has used design activities for years. She describes approaches she feels help create conditions for her students achieving memorable and contextualized learning about electricity and magnetism. She also gives tips on equipment you will need to do the unit so that students have enough variables to explore and optimize, though all the while abiding by the challenge's constraints (e.g., students get three sizes of nails to choose from, but can only work with a limited amount of solenoid wire).

You can have students measure the strength of their electromagnets (EM) in different ways: by the number of chained paper clips it raises, the number of nails in a cup, or the distance at which a compass needle gets deflected when current goes through the system.

In this movie, Nancy also discusses problems that students have with fabricating the electromagnets (some don't know how to use sandpaper to remove the wire's insulation). A host of the misconceptions about circuits, and what it means to have a broken or open versus closed circuit, inevitably arise out of students' drive to make a workable and then a notable electromagnet.

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