Digital Literacy: Introduction to Magnetism

For this activity, students are asked to examine different images related to “magnetism” in order to try and build a theory of some of the elements related to magnetism, as well as the history of it. The images themselves (found through public domain searches) are meant as tools to lead students on a search to find as much information as they can. Images such as these can be used to prepare students for a “preliminary assessment” on the topic, or to help generate ideas in a class discussion before the unit begins.

An introduction to magnetism is something that we have been discussing in my Physics 109 course.  As such, I have found recently that many people have a limited idea of what magnetism includes and think solely of magnets or other objects being attracted to one another. The truth of the matter is, however, that there are many more elements involved; for instance, magnetism exists in the liquid core at the center of our Earth which changes the “geographic North and South” and the “magnetic North and South,” among other things.

Guiding Questions:

  1. When you think of magnetism, what do you think of first?
  2. What do you think people originally believed to be true about magnetism? Why do you think that?
  3. How can these images change, or add to,  our preexisting views of what we think magnetism is?

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Magnetic Materials 

Magnet with Nails

Magnets Together

Magnetism of the Earth

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