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Skip to 0 minutes and 7 secondsSPEAKER 1: Here the children are testing materials to see if they are magnetic or not. They are expecting the metals to be magnetic. As the children discover that not all metals are magnetic, their misconception is being challenged. We could follow this up with more experimenting to try and find out which metals are magnetic and which are not.

Skip to 0 minutes and 29 secondsSPEAKER 2: I'm going to try this one.

Skip to 0 minutes and 31 secondsSPEAKER 3: Yeah, that's a bit.

Skip to 0 minutes and 33 secondsSPEAKER 4: Whoa, did you drop that?

Skip to 0 minutes and 36 secondsSPEAKER 5: No, it actually doesn't stick.

Skip to 0 minutes and 38 secondsSPEAKER 3: Try the other side.

Skip to 0 minutes and 39 secondsSPEAKER 6: It doesn't stick.

Skip to 0 minutes and 40 secondsSPEAKER 3: Try the other side. Jewel's right, it has to be silver to stick.

Skip to 0 minutes and 45 secondsSPEAKER 5: Whoa!

Skip to 0 minutes and 46 secondsSPEAKER 3: I said it has to be silver to stick. That's not silver and it's not sticking.

Skip to 0 minutes and 50 secondsSPEAKER 4: It's gold. The colour's gold.

Skip to 0 minutes and 52 secondsSPEAKER 2: Oh yeah. No, it isn't gold. It's grey. I'll try this one, the bended. I'll try this one if it's bended. It's bended.

Skip to 1 minute and 3 secondsSPEAKER 5: No, it's not.

Skip to 1 minute and 4 secondsSPEAKER 3: So try it--

Skip to 1 minute and 5 secondsSPEAKER 5: Both of Melanie.

Skip to 1 minute and 6 secondsSPEAKER 3: No wait, no. Can I do it? No, it's not magnetic.

Skip to 1 minute and 15 secondsSPEAKER 7: Right, put your hand up if you moved anything from the magnetic pile, the ones you thought were magnetic, over to the not magnetic pile because you tested it and realised it wasn't magnetic. Anything really surprise you?

Skip to 1 minute and 32 secondsSonny, what surprised you?

Skip to 1 minute and 35 secondsSONNY: I thought that this would be magnetic because it looks like really, um, like it looked like it would stick to magnet but it didn't.

Skip to 1 minute and 44 secondsSPEAKER 7: What made you think it was going to stick to a magnet?

Skip to 1 minute and 47 secondsSONNY: Because it looks like it's metal.

Skip to 1 minute and 51 secondsSPEAKER 8: This silver one should be magnetic but this one wasn't.

Skip to 1 minute and 56 secondsSPEAKER 7: Right. Hands up and up.

Skip to 1 minute and 58 secondsSPEAKER 9: I think it's just because it's [inaudible]..

Skip to 2 minutes and 0 secondsSPEAKER 7: Because it's what sorry?

Skip to 2 minutes and 2 secondsSPEAKER 8: I think it's because it's all broken.

Skip to 2 minutes and 3 secondsSONNY: Because it's bent.

Challenging ideas through practical work

Challenging misconceptions can be most successful when children are given the time to explore and challenge their own thoughts and ideas. In this video, children are testing materials to see which are magnetic and which are not. You will notice that the children find it difficult to accept that some of the metal objects are not magnetic, and repeatedly return to them to test them again. Some children come up with alternative explanations for why, only in this case, a metal is not magnetic, such as ‘its because it is bent’.

Having a practical session will allow children a chance to explore any misconceptions they may have. However, it is important to also follow this up with a plenary where new concepts can be discussed and explained. This helps the new ideas to become intelligible (understood) and therefore a valid plausible explanation.

Task

Have a think about where you could next use exploration to challenge children’s thinking in your planning. Give it a go and let us know below how it went.

Perhaps you’ve already tried this method. Tell us below how you did it and how successful it was.

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This video is from the free online course:

Teaching Primary Science: Chemistry

National STEM Learning Centre