According to The Department for Children, Schools and Families, pupils should be made aware of a variety of different types of forces, including pulls, pushes, friction and gravity. Forces and motion are studied as part of national curriculum science in both key stages one and two. Further, they are studied in the equivalent programmes of study provided by Ireland's Department of Education and Skills and Education Scotland.
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Making a magnet
According to education and training research team Zephyrus, you can make a magnet by stroking a piece of ordinary iron or steel with a magnet. To use this activity in the classroom, hand out pieces of iron or steel to your pupils. Give them a magnet and tell them to stroke the iron or steel as many times as possible in one direction. If working with younger pupils, they may tire quickly, so have groups of three or four pupils working together.
Cars and ramps
The Teacher Scientist Network suggests using cars and ramps to investigate velocity and travel. The kit they use provides fun and stimulating activities while introducing the notion of a fair test. Importantly, the Teacher Scientist Network is keen to point out that you should not use the cars and ramps to teach about friction. A common mistake, they claim, is to assume friction is at play when a car rolls down the track.
The Nuffield Foundation explains how to explore friction between solid surfaces with your pupils using a plank, blocks, crank assembly and forcemeter. Allow pupils to take turns in dragging a block along the plank with the forcemeter, registering the force. This equates to the force of friction acting on the block. Repeat the exercise several times to achieve a more accurate result. Repeat with different blocks. Attempt to discover a pattern between the frictional force and the dimensions of the dragged blocks.
The Department for Children, Schools and Families suggests pupils work in pairs to consider an apple falling through the air, a tennis ball hanging on a string and a book at rest on a table. They should discuss and write down the forces acting on the apple, ball and book and the size of the forces. Further, they should draw the forces acting on the objects. The Department stresses this should be done in a systematic way.
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