in Action is a science/technology program appropriate
for the third through fifth grade. Through a series
of three hands-on discovery lessons and one computer-aided
research lesson, the students develop a better understanding
of magnets and their use in their everyday lives.
In one lesson, students test different types of
quantities of fabrics and papers in order to block
magnetic force. They also see if water can block
A total of 54 third grade students in two separate
classes participated in this program. Both classes
functioned above grade level, have been aided in
their technological skills by the library/media
teacher, and meet with the science teacher weekly
for a 50-minute period. The three hands-on lessons
occurred in the classroom. The technology lesson
occurred in the library. This program can easily
be adapted for older students who have a background
in magnetism. The reading level is quite high for
the research component so that lesson could be modified
for those students that are not strong readers.
Teresa Caliari Olya has been teaching for over 15
years and has taught Attraction In Action for three
years. She has previously won an IMPACT II award,
received five mini-grants from the UFT, three grants
from Common Cents, a Dr. Mary J. Leou Excellence
in Science Teaching Award, and grants from donorschoose.org,
the Staten Island Rotary, and the Staten Island
Reading Association. She is also the 2002 borough
winner and the 2001 citywide winner of the Department
of Sanitation’s Golden Apple Award in the Trashmasters
Reduce and Reuse category.
Depending on the amount of materials, students work
in groups of two to four in the classroom. You will
need class sets of several types of magnets – ring,
bar, mini-horseshoe, and ball. You will also need
objects to test, but you should be able to gather
them from around the classroom or your home. Iron
filings, magnet carts (from Delta Education), compasses,
string, rulers, papers, and fabrics of various thicknesses
complete the necessary items.
This program is very discovery-orientated, as the
student learning is the result of actually doing
and acting out the questions that need to be answered.
The students answer the question “How strong is
a magnet?” by adding more layers of cardboard or
another layer of flannel in an effort to block its
force. Children don’t just hear that the Earth is
a magnet—they can prove it! The technology lesson
complements the hands-on activities by showing how
magnets are used today and providing background
material in a better manner than through lectures.
After the initial outlay, the program is relatively
economical and the children have a great time as
they are learning!