Place handouts in the E = mc2 display area or near related
books. Distribute handouts to book groups before they read about related
topics. For book suggestions, see handouts and resource lists. Use the
questions at the end of handouts as discussion starters.
Use magnets to move paper clips and learn about invisible magnetic force.
Time: 10-15 minutes
Group Size: 1-10 children
Materials (per child): 1 bar magnet; about 12 small metal paper clips;
Magnet Maze activity sheet taped onto a piece of poster board; pencil or
Photocopy the Magnet Maze activity sheet and tape onto pieces of poster
board. Obtain bar magnets from a science supply store such as Nasco
(www.enasco.com, 12 small bar magnets for $2.70, item #SB16503M) or
Carolina (www.carolina.com, 10 large bar magnets for $12.50, item
Run the Activity
Introduce how magnets work by putting a paper clip on the floor or a low
table. Ask: Who can lift up this paper clip? (A child will pick
up the paper clip.) Now, can you lift the paper clip without touching it?
What if I give you a magnet? (Child will use magnet to pick up the clip.)
So the magnet does something that moves the paper clip, even though we can't
see what that is. Let's find out how strong this magnet's force is.
Distribute materials to each child. Can your magnet pick up two clips in
a chain like this? Demonstrate by picking up one paper clip with the
magnet, then touching that clip to a second clip (don't link clips). How
many paper clips do you think your magnet could pick up? Make a guess and then
Explain that a magnet's force can even work through something else,
like a piece of poster board. Hold the poster board at a slight angle, and then
move a paper clip on top of the poster board by holding a bar magnet underneath
it. Now explore your maze. Without touching the paper clip, can you
move it through the maze?
Encourage children to put the paper clip on top of other materials (such as
a book, a glass jar, a table top). Does the magnet work through these
Magnets are surrounded by a magnetic field, which generates a force that
pulls on things that are made of certain kinds of metal (like paper clips). The
magnetic field around the magnet can cause certain other objects, such as paper
clips, to become temporarily magnetized and stick to the magnet. The stronger a
magnet is, the greater distance it can act across, and through a thicker
material, such as the poster board.
E = mc2 Puzzle
Solve a crossword puzzle using questions related to Einstein and his ideas.
Time: 15-20 minutes
Group Size: 1-10 participants
Materials (per person): E = mc2 Puzzle activity sheet;
Run the Activity
Distribute photocopies of the E = mc2 Puzzle activity sheet
and invite players to work alone or in pairs. Explain that players will
complete a crossword puzzle by answering questions related to Einstein and his
ideas. They can use the jumbled word bank for extra hints. Then they solve a
riddle by arranging the circled letters of the completed crossword.
Putting the Pieces Together
Work as a group to solve a puzzle and learn about the scientific process.
Time: 15-20 minutes
Group Size: 6-10 participants
Materials (per group): 1 set clue slips (see Get Ready); Putting the Pieces Together activity sheets; pencils; scrap paper; table
Make clue slips by copying the clues at right onto index cards (one per child).
Place clues in an envelope. Photocopy the Putting the Pieces Together
Run the Activity
Have each player pick a clue from the envelope. If there are fewer players
than clues, go around again. If there are more players
than clues, pair up extra players with those holding clues.
To get started, ask: What kinds of things are on your clues? (part of
a name and part of a phrase) What do you think might be the problem you need
to solve? (to figure out how the words go together)
Participants first need to determine that the scientists' names will help
them pair up. Although some names may be unfamiliar, logic and elimination will
help players form the correct pairs. Once correctly matched, give each pair a
pencil and scrap paper so they can write down what their clue slips form (some
need to be unscrambled). Then have the whole group decide what the lines
together form. They can rearrange the lines by moving the sheets of paper on a
table. If they get stuck, ask each pair to read aloud their line, or suggest
they look for punctuation or rhyming words.
Once the puzzle is solved, hand out the activity sheet with the complete
limerick. Talk about the problem-solving process by asking: How many people
did it take to solve this puzzle? (many or all of them) How is this like
the way scientists work? (Scientists collaborate and rely on findings of
others to help make sense of their own work, find answers, and inspire new
questions.) Even Einstein did not figure out everything behind E =
mc2 himself. He relied on centuries of questions, ideas,
experiments, and debates that occurred before and while he was working. The
names of the scientists on the clue slips are just some of the men and women
whose work helped Einstein come up with his ideas.
Big Ideas (Handouts)
E = mc2 has a human story. Science is
influenced by society.
Big Idea (Magnet Maze)
Science is a process of inquiry.
Try an activity yourself before doing it with a group. You will know
what to expect and can modify materials or instructions based on your
Share your enthusiasm for the topic—it will be contagious!
Photocopy the activity sheets onto colored paper for extra appeal.
Make extra copies of activity sheets for participants to take home.
Establish a signal—such as ringing a bell—that tells
everyone to stop and listen to you.
Do not hand out materials until you are ready for participants to
Connect the activity to science. At the end of an activity, ask: What
do you know now that you didn't know before you did this activity? What new
questions do you have? Point out that scientists, like Einstein, work in
this way: Observations lead to questions, and investigating those questions
leads to new ideas and new questions. Encourage participants to continue
investigating at home.
Big Ideas (E = mc2 Puzzle)
Science is a process of inquiry. The legacy of E =
Big Ideas (Putting the Pieces Together)
Science is a process of synthesis. Science is influenced by society.
"Energy mass the
and are same.
it...E = mc2!"
he wasn't scared:
And to reject Isaac Newton
need just I
name; catchy a
Albert shrugged when
his teachers glared,