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MOVIE 1:  3 minutes

Electromagnet Design Challenge

The Challenges In Physical Science curriculum's Electromagnet Design Challenge asks middle-school students to design a battery-run electromagnet so that it picks up as many nails held in a plastic cup as possible. Watch MOVIE 1 for a Quick Peek overview of science teacher Nancy Cianchetta as she introduces and teaches with a materials-constrained design task.

Since students will be redesigning rough plans they are given at the task's outset, you might want to review the Ways of Naive Designers page for teaching strategies that target such designers.

  •   Day 1 - Get Electromagnet Working  Watch Nancy set the stage for students' building their first electromagnet that lifts a chain of paperclips.
  •   Day 2 - Adding Capacity  Students take forays into testing key variables to make a high-performing electromagnet.
  •   Designing Your Lessons  Cianchetta, a science teacher, recommends paths to take when teaching this unit.
  •   History of Magnets  is described, including the use of magnetite and the compass, and Oersted's accidental discovery of electromagnets from passing current through a wire.
  •   Magnet Basics  Fundamental facts of magnets are discussed, including permanent/temporary and poles.
  •   Building an Electromagnet  Practical suggestions for making strong electromagnets are presented. This page is ripe with potential design rules-of-thumb for the electromagnet design challenge.
  •   Magnets and Electricity  Get a brief overview on the relationship between moving charges or changing electric fields and magnetism.
Documents and Handouts
View or print out a copy of the Electromagnet materials by clicking below:
  Electromagnet Challenge (7 pages)
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