The Power of Electricity, Magnetism… and Infomercials!

Educational Innovations BlogBy Cathy Byrne

Virtually all fourth grade students explore electricity and magnetism.  As part of this unit, students are asked to do two things:

1 –   Make observations to provide evidence that energy can be transferred from place to place by sound, light, heat, and electric currents (4-PS3-2)

2 –   Apply scientific ideas to design, test, and refine a device that converts energy from one form to another (4-PS3-4). 

This year, the teachers at my school put a new twist on our electricity and magnetism unit… and the results were amazing!

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The Flock Clock

Mike Rigsby headshotby: Mike Rigsby

Drinking Bird, Educational InnovationsThe normal way to operate a drinking bird is to have him dip his head in water.  The water on his felt head evaporates, leaving the head cooler than the bird’s body.  The liquid flowing into the upper bulb (head) changes the center of gravity, causing the bird to tip forward.  Liquid flows back to the bottom bulb and the bird returns to his upright position.  As long as an adequate temperature difference (head cooler than body) remains, the cycle will repeat.

Instead of cooling the head, why not warm the body?  If you place an electrical resistor below the bird’s body and pass current through the resistor, the resistor will get warm.  The warmth will cause the bird to bob. Read the rest of this entry »