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This article was originally published as:

Carruthers, R., & de Berg, K. C. (2010). The use of magnets for introducing primary school students to some properties of forces through small-group pedagogy. Teaching Science, 56(2), 13-17.



Seventeen Grade Six students were divided into small groups to study the concept of forces in the context of magnets and their properties. The researcher, a pre-service primary school teacher, encouraged the students into conversation about magnets and it was found that, without hesitation, they talked about their prior experience of magnets. The words, 'pushing' and 'pulling', endemic to an early introduction to the notion of force, were used spontaneously by the students when referring to the repulsion and attraction properties of magnets. In conversation, the students were prepared to make claims or hypotheses about magnet behaviour and often sought evidence for these. This study indicates that, given the right context, the rudimentary elements of argumentation can be appropriated naturally by children. In this paper, the focus is on the push-pull character of forces and the fact that forces appear to interact in pairs. [Author abstract]


Teaching Science is the flagship journal of the Australian Science Teachers Association. The journal may be accessed from the publisher here.

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