Electricity and Magnetism

Thinking about actions to take: Exploring Magnets

Teaching Guidance for 11-14 Supporting Physics Teaching

There's a good chance you could improve your teaching if you were to:

Try these

  • using an explicit model of permanent magnets
  • being consistent in the drawing of force arrows
  • giving children a variety of representations to hand when asking for descriptions
  • explicitly modelling the drawing of magnetic fields
  • explaining the interpretation of magnetic field diagrams – and why field diagrams are important
  • speaking, acting and drawing with exemplary precision, so children can apprentice their practice on yours
  • giving extensive first-hand, physical, experience of the forces between magnets
  • explicitly modelling the replacement of an interaction with a force, by isolating one magnet from its environment
  • exploiting the sensations of action-at-a-distance in your own hands
  • explicitly introducing the purposes of the field idea at the same time as the idea
  • moving from north-seeking pole to north pole
  • using the mini-magnets representation to support predictions

Teacher Tip: Work through the Physics Narrative to find these lines of thinking worked out and then look in the Teaching Approaches for some examples of activities.

Avoid these

  • relying too much on precise words by themselves
  • acting as if the drawing of magnetic fields is obvious
  • referring to gravitational, electrical and magnetic effects without taking great care to separate them
  • linking the atmosphere to mediating either gravitational or magnetic forces
  • assuming that action-at-a-distance is not problematic

Teacher Tip: These difficulties are distilled from: the research findings; the practice of well-connected teachers with expertise; issues intrinsic to representing the physics well.

can be analysed using Magnetic Field
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