posted on 2011-04-24 22:51:30So, I'm taking a class on science and math education this semester because I think they're important things for people to know, because so much of our modern world depends on them, and they often run so counter to our intuition. Even as someone who has been taking physics courses for the last six years, I often find myself not completely sure of how things work, or at least unable to explain them to people when the chance arises. For this class, I've been visiting a local high school and sitting in on their physics class. I get to help out a little, and I'm slowly learning a bit about the craft of teaching. While the part I'm most afraid of is classroom management (Not necessarily the best and handling conflict) I can only learn that from experience, and to get experience I have to plan some lessons...
The first lesson I've been given to teach is magnetism. Specifically, I chose to deal with magnetic fields, which are something really strange to people because they float invisibly in the air around us, and we don't usually think about them so much as the effect of the things that cause them. As far as I was concerned, I had two real examples to work with: The Earth's magnetic field and the magnetic field of bar magnets.
The best method I could find or come up with for introducing magnetic field lines was to take a compass and a bar magnet and trace one out. I think that actually got things across pretty well, because you have the compass needle pointing in the direction that the field points at any given spot around the magnet, and you can go from there, talking about the direction of the field (from north to south, which I taught backwards once) and then on to field strength.
I then fell back on iron filings and different shaped magnets for a lab section, which went pretty well, too. The Magnets Lab was supposed to teach about the loops of magnetic fields by showing, using the paramagnetism of iron filings.
Most of what I took away from the lesson, though, was organizational. The students needed me to write down the important things I was saying so they could take notes. I also needed to demonstrate the lab, and other things that I'd long since forgotten about, while being in college.