Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The attraction is magnetic!

Having a blast with magnets. The kit we have came with 2 bar, 2 ring, and one ball magnet. They are OK, I suppose... they're doing mostly what they should. But today, we went to one of my favorite local shops. Children's Bookshop and Teaching Supplies. It's about 20 minutes away, and while it is indeed a children's bookstore, it is primarily geared towards the teacher, homeschool or otherwise. Lots of posters, kits, charts, decorations, you name it. One could easily go broke in this place. What did I buy today?

I bought rare earth button magnets. Super strong, these guys.
I bought iron filings. Iron dust would be more descriptive, but again, the kit that the curriculum supplied had a demonstrator that they called "filings" but really, picture clipped staples. A bit heavy in conjunction with the weak magnets they sent, and very hard to make the magnetic force lines appear. You really had to know what the end result was supposed to be before you could make the experiment work. But with the stuff I bought... aha! It became very obvious.

I bought a globe. Really, I had planned on saving a globe for this Christmas as a suggestion for a friend/family member to buy... but then I realized I was very picky on what type of globe I wanted. So I just bought one. Earlier this week I had already bought a bunch of map posters on Amazon (several for $0.99 plus shipping) so I didn't go crazy for the maps like I could have. When doing Shannon's 13 Colonies exercise for the Ben Franklin book, I realized how low we were on maps. Ta dah, not any more!

I bought art supplies. Mostly stuff we needed anyway, so nothing particularly exciting, just posterboard, tempera paints, and such. I also bought clay, not to be confused with PlayDoh. Again, one of the things that you see and wonder how you've managed to raise your child to this age without having any in the house.

I bought a Scholastic book, "If You Lived at the Time of the American Revolution" to go with our current Ben Franklin book.

But back to the magnets. Today's "fun" activity was using magnets to paint. Take one 7x12 tupperware style container, line the bottom with a piece of paper. Best to tape it on each end to hold it in place. Place a few blobs of paint in strategic locations. Drop in ferrous items: paper clips, nails, screws, washers, ball magnet (her favorite), things like that. Then, while mom holds the bin in the air, daughter holds a magnet under the bin and slides it along the bottom, causing the ferrous items inside to slide through the paint and across the paper. Voila, instant abstract art. Truth? It looked like a 2-year old's finger paint job. Not the best or prettiest art Shannon's ever made. But she had so much fun making it, playing with the magnetic forces. And thus is the connection made.

Tomorrow we make our own magnet out of an iron nail and find two ways to demagnetize it, test the effect of temperature on magnetism, and make a magnet-powered boat.

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