Magnet Mission! Students will combine their knowledge of magnetic properties with creative thinking and engineering to solve simple problems using magnets. This activity was created designed specifically to meet NGSS 3-PS2-4. Define a simple design problem that can be solved by applying scientific ideas about magnets. It is appropriate for grades 3-5.
-20 magnet missions
-2 options for recording sheets
-list of possible solutions
-detailed teacher notes
Each magnet mission contains a simple problem that can be solved with magnets. The problems are intentionally very open-ended so students can come up with a unique solution on their own. There are no right or wrong solutions. Conceivably everyone could come up with a different solution to the same problem!
How to use these cards:
I like to create activities that are versatile and can be used in a variety of ways depending on your students, time constraints, and individual needs. Here are some ideas. I would love to hear from you if you end up using them in a different way, too!
Option 1: Discussion Cards
If you are short on science time or materials, you can use these cards as discussion cards. They could be whole class, small group, or partner discussions. Have students think critically to come up with a potential solution. You may even choose to use the half-page organizer (included) to guide discussions and encourage students to consider possible pros and cons of the solution. They could be used as time fillers or for early finishers. You could laminate and hole punch them and keep them on a metal ring for when you have a few minutes in your day.
Option 2: STEM Engineering
This is my original intent in designing the cards. Have students not only think about the solution and consider the pros and cons, but also have them design a solution. This requires that you have a variety of magnets and other materials on hand for students to experiment with. You could work on the same problem as a whole class to see how many different solutions you come up with. You could also assign each student or pair of students a different problem to work on, and then have them share briefly the problem and solution they came up with. There is a recording page included to guide their investigation. You could also set this up as a rotating center where there is a new problem each week. That way, students are regularly working on magnetic concepts and STEM even if you are on a different unit in science.
Option 3: Commercial
For this option, you will extend the STEM Engineering challenge by having students create a commercial. They will use ELA skills to come up with a commercial that advertises their “Magnet Solutions” company.
You will need a variety of magnets: bar magnets, magnet wands, circle magnets, horseshoe magnets, magnets with sticky backs, magnet tape, magnet toys. I recommend you just gather all of the magnets you can find! If you are going to have students engineer the solutions, you may not have all o the materials needed. Since these are “real world’ problems, encourage students to do what scientists would do if they don’t have access to what they need: make a model. For this, you may need a variety of arts and crafts supplies or recyclable materials.
I hope you and your students love these magnetic missions!
This set is part of my Magnet Bundle!