Inquiry-Based Science and the Next Generation Science Standards: A Magnetic Attraction

Contributor
Jennifer Richards, Ann Johnson, and Colleen Gillespie Nyeggen
Type Category
Instructional Materials
Types
Lesson/Lesson Plan , Article , Experiment/Lab Activity
Note
This resource, vetted by NSTA curators, is provided to teachers along with suggested modifications to make it more in line with the vision of the NGSS. While not considered to be “fully aligned,” the resources and expert recommendations provide teachers with concrete examples and expert guidance using the EQuIP rubric to adapted existing resources. Read more here.

Reviews

Description

This article from Science and Children demonstrates how a series of classroom investigation can align well to the dimensions of the Next Generation Science Standards despite the fact that the investigations predated the release of the Framework for K-12 Science Education. It details how a student-driven inquiry on magnetism progresses over the course of six instructional periods in response to the students’ developing ideas. Although the students in this class were fifth graders, the procedure for implementing a student-driven investigation is easily adaptable for third graders.

Intended Audience

Educator
Educational Level
  • Grade 5
  • Grade 4
  • Grade 3
  • Upper Elementary
Language
English
Access Restrictions

Available for purchase - The right to view, keep, and/or download material upon payment of a one-time fee.

Performance Expectations

3-PS2-3 Ask questions to determine cause and effect relationships of electric or magnetic interactions between two objects not in contact with each other.

Clarification Statement: Examples of an electric force could include the force on hair from an electrically charged balloon and the electrical forces between a charged rod and pieces of paper; examples of a magnetic force could include the force between two permanent magnets, the force between an electromagnet and steel paperclips, and the force exerted by one magnet versus the force exerted by two magnets. Examples of cause and effect relationships could include how the distance between objects affects strength of the force and how the orientation of magnets affects the direction of the magnetic force.

Assessment Boundary: Assessment is limited to forces produced by objects that can be manipulated by students, and electrical interactions are limited to static electricity.

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this performance expectation.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
This series of investigations focused on the interactions between two magnets not in contact with each other. Student generated questions drove the entire investigation, beginning with: “Will magnets work underwater?” then proceeded to “Can magnets be blocked by certain materials?”, “Did it have a harder time working through solids than liquids and gases?”, and concluding with, “Is it truly possible to block a magnetic field?” It is recommended that the concept of magnetism as a force be made more explicit. Students should also be encouraged to explicitly identify cause and effect relationships as they report the findings of their investigations. For third graders, introductory open-ended investigation of magnets will help students generate questions. Working in partners with something as simple as two magnets and a few paper clips, students will develop many observations and wonderings. Through discourse guided by the teacher, the class will be able to refine these initial ideas into testable questions.

Science and Engineering Practices

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this science and engineering practice.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
Students designed and conducted the investigations with minimal input and guidance from the teacher. Each investigation was driven by a question that focused on a variable to be tested. Developing understanding of a “fair test” can help guide students to a controlled experiment for third graders. The data collected served as the basis for evidence that led to more questions, which led to the planning and conducting of further investigations. The issue of how many trials were conducted in each investigation was not detailed in this article. The importance of replicable trials and the number of trials sufficient for an investigation would need to be made explicit with third graders.

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this science and engineering practice.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
The students asked a series of questions to investigate cause and effect relationships including the effect of water and the distance between two magnets while in water, the effect of different materials and properties of matter (solids, liquids, and gases) placed between the magnets, and the strength of magnets. However, the cause and effect relationships were not explicitly stated. It is recommended that students be encouraged to explicitly identify cause and effect relationships as they report the findings of their investigations. The understanding that their findings reveal a pattern also needs to be made explicit, especially for third graders.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
While the similarities between electrical and magnetic forces were considered in their discussions of their findings, the focus of this series of investigations focused on the interactions between two magnets not in contact with each other. Through these investigations, students were able to reason that the strength of the magnetic force was dependent on the magnets’ strength and the distances between them. Third grade students should be able to reach similar conclusions as well. The testing of properties such as material composition of the magnets (i.e., alnico, ceramic, rubber) is suggested to further enhance these investigations.

Crosscutting Concepts

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this crosscutting concept, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
The predictions made and the questions asked and investigated by the students were based on patterns in the cause and effect relationships observed in the outcomes of their investigations. This Crosscutting Concept can be made more explicit by asking the following questions: What was the basis for the questions and predictions posed with each investigation? What patterns in the outcomes led you to ask these questions and make these predictions?

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this crosscutting concept, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
The students asked a series of questions that investigated cause and effect relationships including the effect of water and the distance between two magnets while in water, the effect of different materials and properties of matter (solids, liquids, and gases) placed between the magnets, and the strength of magnets. However, the cause and effect relationships were not explicitly stated. It is recommended that students be encouraged to explicitly identify cause and effect relationships as they report the findings of their investigations.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: All dimensions of the NGSS were strongly addressed. Students worked collaboratively to ask questions, plan, and conduct an investigation that will produce data that served as evidence to explain phenomena. The data provided evidence that distance affects the amount of force a magnet is able to exert on a set of objects (cause and effect relationship). Further, it demonstrated that magnetic forces did not require that the objects be in contact, and that the size of the force depends on the properties of the objects and their distances apart.

  • Instructional Supports: As this was a student-driven inquiry, it engaged students in an authentic and meaningful series of investigations that reflect the practice of science as experienced in the real world. It engaged students in multiple practices integrated with disciplinary core ideas and crosscutting concepts to make sense of phenomena.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: The importance of ongoing formative assessment was emphasized in this article. The necessity of listening carefully to student’s experiences was identified. The 3 C’s of Scientific Thinking (Causality, Coherence and Clarity) were the criteria applied as the teacher listened to the students. The teacher also kept track of the students’ ideas on the visualizer and had students record their individual responses to ideas or questions. Both sets of artifacts were used to monitor student understanding of concepts. To assess students summatively, a short constructed response assessing the student’s understanding of the cause and effect relationship of magnetic interactions between two objects not in contact with each other is suggested.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: This resource does not include a technologically interactive component.