Friday, February 26, 2010

Jefferson & Magnetism

Jefferson is currently studying science in his second trimester at away school....and loving every minute of it!  Not that I'm surprised by that - he has always loved science.  And this year is full of new stuff (as opposed to my nature walks and sketches - "Another drawing? Awww, Mooooom!") with a new (and well respected)teacher.

His longterm science assignment this trimester was to choose a scientific principle, find sources from which to study it, write a paragraph about it, and find a way to demonstrate it. 

He choose magnetism and a demonstration of a home made compass.  I will admit that I was a bit nervous about this assignment since I am clueless not well informed about magnetism and didn't know quite where to start helping him (not mention the rest of the 'chaos' around here with their fat little legs and loud little voices).  Nevermind that this was in the Sonlight plan for his 3rd grade year at home - if I haven't taught it, I haven't learned re-learned it. So I diverted to my mechanical engineer educated (but working software engineer) hubbs (there has to be some kind of info about magnetism in those degrees and experience, right?)!

Nice thing about homeschooling is that one can always find a book (or two or three) with information about magnetism and compasses around!  Who needs the internet when one is a bookaholic??  ;-) 

Hubbs helped him learn how to copy the reference information from the books and summarize the information about magnetism given in each book so that all Jefferson would have to do for his sloppy copy is to pull his summaries together into a paragraph.  There ensued much arguing at this point as Jefferson has trouble listening (to us, mind you, not to Mrs. Third Grade Teacher!) and seems to know everything already (is this just age 8 or is it MY kid?  LOL!).

Once he had read from his sources and discussed the principle with dh, he chunked out a sloppy copy which dh didn't have time to help him refine.  So I sat to help him fix spelling and chop any extra stuff.  He was so durned excited the whole time I worked with him that I thought someone might get throttled - lol!

Here's the end result for "Magnetism" by Jefferson:
"I would like to know more about magnetism.  The main people who discovered magnetism are Nicolas Tesla and Michael Faraday.  Some vocabulary words that you might need to know are: magnetic field, which means the field surrounding an object, magnetic domains, which are atoms that all have the same magnetic direction, and magnetism, which is how materials respond when exposed to a magnetic field.  That ends our vocabulary words.  Now on to the background information.  There are many uses for magnetism including electric motors, bicycle lights, and compasses.  The compass involves magnetizing a piece of metal.  This makes the metal align with the earth's magnetic field.  Since we know that the earth's magnetic field goes North to South, this then helps us with navigation because the magnetized piece of metal will tell us which way is North.
Magnetism is when all the magnetic domains in a material are aligned.  To align all the magnetic domains rub a magnet on a piece of metal in one direction.  Use metal because magnetism will not work with insulators, like cork.  The magnet will align itself with the earth's magnetic field just like a compass."

For his demonstration of a home made compass, he was required to explain a bit about magnetism and the compass without his report.  Holy smokes, did this makes him nervous!  He thought that he'd have to write something else out in order to memorize it.  But I reminded him that he had clearly explained it to me (who had not done the research with him) and that he already KNEW the information from his research (which was the point - not that he realized that he actually learned in this process - lol!).  And after a bit of practice, he was ready to take on the third grade class!

DH went to watch his presentation (leaving jealous momma at home) and take photos.  Jefferson did very well and hardly stumbled - even when Mrs. Third Grade Teacher asked him questions and got up to check his home made compass with a real one (I hadn't thought of that!).  He later told me that it helped that he had something in his hands to talk about (isn't that the truth for most of us?).  His overall grade was excellent - better than even he expected.  We're so proud of our boy!  I continue to be amazed at how he reaches and exceeds the bar that is set for him.  His motivation may be that of pleasing his teacher (insert envious momma sigh here) as well as his excitement for learning (every momma's goal) but it's so exciting to see how fast he's learning! I hope that he remembers this project because we certainly will....



argsmommy said...

He did a great job! My away school student recently finished her science fair project, so we went through a lot of the same things as you guys. It's great to see them learn, but it was a lot of work.

sbharnish said...

yay J! it brings back memories of years and years of science fair projects....Dad always made us join as he was usually involved as a judge.

mrs. third grade teacher said...

J did a great job with his presentation on that day. He knew his stuff and was well prepared. Cool project and, it really worked! I always wondered if it would. Thanks for sharing your sweet boy with me. :-)

Jennifer@DoingTheNextThing said...

that's awesome! i'm so glad he's having a good year! and thus, you are too. ;)
i'm impressed with the assignment - what a good idea for a research project!