Friday, November 9, 2012

Magnetic Fields

This week the boys have been exploring magnetic fields.  I followed the presentations given in Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding using a plastic tray (rather than the piece of poster board they recommended) and loose iron filings.  However, I wasn't willing to let me kids loose all week with a shaker of iron filings.  In the photo above Kal-El is using a great product from Home Science Tools called a magnetic field demonstrator.  The iron filings are suspended in a liquid and sealed between two plexiglass plates.

The boys have made a lot of observations as they have used this with all of the different shapes of magnets in our collection.  They have learned that the magnetic field is always there but invisible, only made visible by the iron filings.  They have learned that the  magnetic field is strongest as the poles, and that the field does not extend indefinitely but only for a certain distance and that it gradually decreases in strength.  We still have some work to do observing the pattern the filings will make around magnets when two like poles are attracting and when two opposite poles are repelling.

We also watched another magnetism video: Bill Nye the Science Guy: Magnetism.  I waited until AFTER we had done most of our experiments.  The boys get really excited if they see an experiment done that they have already completed.  If you were to show the video first it would ruin the discovery process.  We liked the Bill Nye video.  However, our favorite parts were stock footage from what looks like a NASA educational movie about magnetism from maybe the 1950's. (CORRECTION:  It is from the 39 episode series "Junior Science" with Dr. Gerald Wendt.  AVGeeks seems to have almost all the episodes, but perhaps not digitized yet?) They showed a small boy, about the boys' age, doing a lot of experiments that they had done with magnets.  They also showed the boy in a boy scouts uniform using a magnet for orienteering (Kal-El's next interest stemming from this work).  I would LOVE to be able to watch the old Junior Science series.  If anyone knows how to access them LET ME KNOW!

Please don't forget vote for me today for the Homeschool Blog Awards.  You can vote for me EVERY DAY, you can vote more than once if you own mulitiple devices!  My category is Best Homeschooling Methods Blog 2012 .


  1. I love the field demonstrator! How cool and mess free! Thanks for sharing.

  2. I remember seeing blips of those old videos too - if you DO find a source for them, please share! ;)

    My son isn't so much into Bill Nye - he likes the shows decently enough, but he's not as into them as I thought he would be. Go figure :)

  3. I found you something!

    Search this phrase in google:
    type:nasa archives

    We just watched a few (like Apollo 13 footage because that was a movie recently seen), so I don't know if your choices are in there or not :)

  4. Love the board!!!!! What a great idea because filing are such a pain in the butt!It looks like you guys are having a great time working! happy Schooling!

  5. Jessica,

    I'm getting closer! I rewatched the credits and the Bill Nye credits said:

    Film Bank

    Two separate lines like that, so maybe they don't go together. I rewatched the opening and a gentleman starts by saying "Hello young neighbors! Welcome to Junior Science." Apparently an award-winning program created by Max Rosenberg and Milton Subotsky. I haven't found it online yet, still looking. Although it may not have been digitized yet:

  6. Okay, it was called "Junior Science with Dr. Geral Wendt." And I suspect the footage is available through some stock footage company. Anybody know how to work some magic?

    Leave it to me to fall in love with the mood and style of science shows from the 1950's. It was so nice how the image didn't jump around. The Bill Nye video's are such sensory overload.

  7. Oops, I meant Dr. Gerald Wendt, with a "d" on Gerald. 1954. Arco films.

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