Don't Have to See It to Believe It

Just because it’s invisible doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. 3rd graders throughout the Windsor Central School District took a hands-on approach to learn just how powerful invisible forces can be. 

Using inquiry-based learning methods, science teacher Deb Kalivoda asked students, “What magnetic design can I create to solve a simple problem?”
Three young students, two girs and a boy, working at a desk in a classroom 

Students made a door lock with a secret key – a magnet. In doing so they learned the properties of poles, repulsion and attraction.

“We’re studying forces: pushes, pulls, gravity, friction. This is just another invisible force. Things don’t necessarily have to touch each other to push and pull,” said Kalivoda. 

Students studied door lock samples. They then used these ideas to create a lock for their card stock door using paperclips, index cards, tape and brad fastener.  Their challenge was to create a lock then can be opened up with a magnet.  

“There are many invisible pushes and pull that operate in the world around them.  Students will realize that they can solve simple problems with a magnetic design of their very own,” said Kalivoda.
Three young students, two boys and a girl, working at a desk in a classroom 

By making the students use the engineering design process to learn about invisible forces, Kalivoda expected the students would experience trial-and-error to make multiple models before finding one that worked. Some, though, nailed the design on their first try.

“I put the brad in the door, and the brad held the paper clip. Then, I taped the paper clip on a paper strip. Then, I found the paper clip with the magnet. It works really well,” said Mallory Mooney.

“It’s awesome because you get to play and see how the magnet could get through the paper and tape to slide the paper clip,” said Evan Waddell. 

Students will soon explore the use of another magnetic force – a compass. They’ll also study another invisible force that can create movement, static electricity. Students will have a final inquiry-based science lesson before the end of the school year, weather and climate.  

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