Pass out a magnet to each student. Begin by having students determine what their magnet can stick to without leaving their seats.
Discussion: What did the magnets stick to? Share ideas about what is similar about the items that stick to the magnet
Pick up the magnets before the following activity.
Give each student or lab group a bag full of common objects. More independent groups of students may work alone while younger students and less independent students should work as groups of two.
Question: Which items in the bag will stick to the magnet?
Introduce the bags to the students as follows: We will be looking at various objects in today's lab. They might stick to a magnet or they might not. You'll first be composing a hypothesis before testing the magnets. Based on your experience in the past with magnets and the warm up activity, compose two lists of items. This should be done using a braillewriter for braille students so that this list can be easily accessed while looking at your results later. Students should separate the groups into the two tubs first and then make the lists.
Hypothesis - 2 lists
Will stick to a magnet
Will NOT stick to a magnet
Once all of the students (or groups) have composed their lists, tell students that it is time to complete the experiment and give each student a magnet.
Place all objects back in the bag.
Remove the objects one at a time to test.
Separate the objects into the two tubs based on whether they are attracted to the magnet or not.
Make a new list based on your results with columns labeled as follows:
a. Sticks to the magnet
b. Doesn't stick to the magnet
Students should compose a conclusion indicating which objects they were correct about in the hypothesis and which incorrect.
Instruct them to include any thoughts about items that acted in ways they didn't expect.
Did any of the items you tested surprise you? (Students may mention the aluminum or brass objects that didn't stick to the magnet.)
Is there anything you noticed on your results list that is the same about all of the things that stick?
Are any metals in the "things that don't stick" column? (aluminum foil)
What do you think is different about the metal items that stick to magnets compared with those that don't? (They are all made out of the same kind of metal.)
Explain to the students that there is only one kind of metal that magnets stick to, namely iron. Sometimes it is mixed with other metals to make steel, therefore steel also sticks to a magnet. Therefore, if a magnet sticks to an object, the object is iron or steel.