OpenSciEd: 8.3 Forces at a Distance 1-Class Unit Kit


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Grades 6–8. In Unit 8.3 Forces at a Distance, Carolina Certified Version*, students work to answer the Unit Driving Question: "How can a magnet move another object without touching it?"

Music has a central place in the lives of young people. It has never been easier for them to listen to their favorite songs in the car, on the bus, or in the schoolyard. Middle school students spend countless hours cycling through playlists on their devices, using headphones or Bluetooth® speakers that are designed for and marketed to young people. Speakers, in their various forms, work with the simple movement of a speaker membrane, or speaker cone. But what causes this membrane to move? Can a tiny headphone do something similar to the subwoofer speaker in a car to play music? As speakers have evolved over time, one thing has remained the same: the use of magnets to vibrate the speaker membrane.

Students are presented with an anchoring phenomenon that focuses on the vibration of a speaker and asked to think about what causes this vibration. The vibration of a speaker connects to a model of sound that students have developed previously, but this new unit opens the door for students to investigate the cause of a speaker's vibration as opposed to the effect. Students dissect speakers to explore the inner workings, and they build homemade cup speakers to manipulate the parts of the speaker. They identify that speakers of all kinds contain some of the same parts�a magnet, a coil of wire, and a membrane. Students investigate each of these parts to figure out how they work together in the speaker system. Along the way, students manipulate the parts (e.g., changing the strength of the magnet, number of coils, current direction) to see how this technology could be modified to apply to systems in very different contexts, such as maglev trains, junkyard magnets, and electric motors.

Through a series of hands-on investigations, students:

  • Develop and refine a model about forces (pushes and pulls) that includes magnetic forces interacting at a distance via fields that extend through space.
  • Revise a model for explaining magnetic forces to include electromagnets that act as permanent magnets in many ways but can be manipulated by changing the electric current.
  • Consider the transfer of energy in their model, and the connections between forces, energy, and magnetic fields.
  • Plan and carry out a series of investigations to test how changes in one part of a magnetic system (e.g., number of coils, diameter of coils, strength of magnet) affect the magnetic forces in the system.
  • Construct an explanation, based on evidence, that magnetic fields extend through space, and predict the strength and direction of magnetic forces.

This 1-Class Unit Kit includes basic teacher access to instructional materials on, plus the materials needed to teach 1 class of 32 students per day.

Building Toward NGSS Performance Expectations

  • MS-PS2-3: Ask questions about data to determine the factors that affect the strength of electric and magnetic forces.
  • MS-PS2-5: Conduct an investigation and evaluate the experimental design to provide evidence that fields exist between objects exerting forces on each other even though the objects are not in contact.
  • MS-PS3-2: Develop a model to describe that when the arrangement of objects interacting at a distance changes, different amounts of potential energy are stored in the system.

Science and Engineering Practices

  • Asking Questions and Defining Problems
  • Planning and Carrying Out Investigations
  • Developing and Using Models
  • Analyzing and Interpreting Data
  • Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking
  • Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions

Focal Disciplinary Core Ideas

  • PS2.B
  • PS3.A
  • PS3.C
  • PS2.B

Focal Crosscutting Concepts

  • Cause and Effect
  • Systems and System Models
  • Energy and Matter
  • Patterns
  • Scale, Proportion, and Quantity

*All enhancements to materials and instruction for this Carolina Certified Version of the unit are approved by OpenSciEd to preserve the integrity of the storyline and the instructional model.


Shipping Information or Purchase Restrictions
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What’s Included:
  •  Unit Technology Pack (basic digital access to teacher's guide and all instructional resources for the teacher)
  •  Binder Clips, Large, 2" W x 1" capacity
  •  Bowl, Plastic
  •  Compasses, Magnetic
  •  Doorbell
  •  Iron Filings (flakes)
  •  Knife, Retractable
  •  Magnets, Alnico Bar, No Paint, 2"
  •  Magnets, Extra Small, 1/2"
  •  Magnets, Large, 1-1/2"
  •  Magnets, Medium, 1"
  •  Magnets, Small, 3/4"
  •  Nails, 12D
  •  Rulers, Plastic, Metric (12")
  •  Screwdriver
  •  Speaker, 4 Ohm, 40 W
  •  Speakers, 3", 4 Ohm, 3 W
  •  Tape, Measuring, 150 cm/60"
  •  Aluminum Foil, 25-ft Roll
  •  Bags, Plastic, Resealable, Heavy-Duty
  •  Batteries, Alkaline, Size D
  •  Cups, Plastic, 9 oz, Squat
  •  Labels, Assorted, 1/4"
  •  LEDs, 2-Pin, Bi-Color
  •  Light Bulbs, Grain of Wheat
  •  Mini Index Flags
  •  Note Cards
  •  Note Pads, Self-Adhesive, Medium
  •  Paper Clips, Jumbo, Box
  •  Putty, Adhesive, 2 oz
  •  Sandpaper
  •  Tape, Masking, 1/2" W
  •  Tape, Transparent
  •  Wire, #20, Bare Copper AWG, 50-ft Rolls
  •  Wire, #28, Enameled, 75-ft Rolls
Needed But Not Included:
Return Policy:

If for any reason you are not satisfied with this item, it is eligible for a return, exchange, refund, or credit up to 180 days from date of purchase. Restrictions may apply. Returns & Exchanges Policy.