Activity 8: Magnetic Fields
Have you ever seen Earth's magnetic field? Students will model the Earth's magnetic field using a ball, a neodymium magnet and staples.
To illustrate the presence of magnetic fields.
Students will be able to:
Activity: 30 min.
Remember, the Earth has a north pole and a south pole, just like our bar magnets. So the Earth's magnetic field should look similar to the one we just illustrated in the last activity, only we now have a way to make that model three-dimensional. Using a small foam ball and a neodymium magnet, you can place used (bent) staples gently on the surface of the ball and see the Earth's magnetic field. Try holding a compass on the surface of the ball and see what happens.
Which way are the staples pointing at the two poles of this model of the Earth? Why? What about at the equator, why are the staples laying flat there? What are the rest of the staples doing? Does it look like something we have already seen? Do you think that our planet Earth has the same lines of force around it as we see here? Think of a compass as one of our staples here, what way would it point on the equator. What about at the poles? Why can't we see it standing up at the poles? Why is the Earth's magnetic field important? What would happen if the poles switched, and our compasses started to point south instead of north? What would life be like if there was no magnetic field at all?
Have the students hypothesize about how life would be different if the poles switched again, like they have in our geologic past. Have them write a creative story about a day in their life if the poles switched. Perhaps turn this into its own activity, using increased information on the poles switching. Have students try an orienteering course, only backwards.
Included National Parks and other sites:
Utah Science Core:
Kindergarten Standard 4 Objective 3
Did You Know?
On a clear day, the visibility at Bryce Canyon National Park often exceeds 100 miles! This is due to our exceptional air quality, low humidity and high elevation. More...