- Middle School
- Flames, Fluids, and Physics
- Technology and Materials
This program is free.
This activity from Design Squad’s Mission: Solar System uses magnets as actuators to change the paths of moving metal objects. Students try to hit a target, adjusting their strategy with each attempt. This hands-on experimentation gives them an intuitive feel for the way a magnet’s force varies with distance. Although the main audience is afterschool programs, this activity works in classrooms too; the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) has vetted this activity.
Relevance to the International Space Station:
In the Controlled Dynamics Locker on the ISS, electromagnets are used as sensors (to detect changes in a metal box’s position) and as actuators (to cause the box to move).