April 16, 2009

Magnetism explained beautifully

Magnetic Movie from Semiconductor on Vimeo.

If you're a science teacher trying to explain magnetism, you could do a lot worse than showing this beautiful animated film produced for Channel 4 with Arts Council England. As the blurb says:

"Are we observing a series of scientific experiments, the universe in flux, or a documentary of a fictional world?"

Plenty of other vids for scientists, geographers, writers over on the Vimeo site.

Update: Worth reading the comments underneath, reiiterating why finding knowledge on, say, magnetism is increasingly easy but gaining a foot in the door of learning about this might still require a talented teacher with an inspiring vid to kick things off.


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Kia ora Ewan!

Thank you for sharing this video. In the hands of a skilled teacher, and introduced appropriately, this vid has the potential to be a wonderful adjunct to a senior Physics lesson in magnetic fields.

I have taught Science for over 30 years. During that time I've taught senior Physics both in the classroom/lab and by distance. I'm not so sure that this vid would be much use to any of my students unless they really knew what it was they were looking at. To know that, a student would need to have more than just a rudimentary knowledge of what magnetism was about.

This is the problem with well animated, colourful wizzy Science things that look interesting and amazing (and ARE interesting and amazing). A wonderful colourful animation of intermolecular interactions in aqueous solution can likewise amaze and impress. But it only has meaning to someone who knows a thing or two about what they are looking at.

I'm not criticising the vid. Understanding Science and being wowed by its fascinating phenomena are not the same thing though. And I recognise too that there IS a place for wowing learners with fascinating phenomena.

One thing that was clear to me (I watched the vid twice) was that it didn't actually explain anything about what magnetism was as a phenomenon. I know from my undergrad Physics, for instance, that lines of magnetic field do not sweep precisely in the manner shown in the vid, so the animation has the potential to mislead even someone who may think they know a thing or two about magnetic fields. Again, the viewer has to know what they're looking at before the video information can be usefully interpreted. More so if it is used as a (re-)introduction to magnetic fields at a senior level.

This comment is not intended to throw a damper on the enthusiasm you have for wonderful videos Ewan. I trust you get that message too :-)

Catchya later
from Middle-earth

Constructive, Ken, but knowledge is something I assume people who don't know what magnetism is might be inspired to go off and find on Wikipedia or, better still, by viewing videos and undertaking exercises on MIT's Open Courseware.

That said, there's still a significant role for the teacher in a) finding and showing this video and b) preparing a route through the complex subject with examples, further videos and resources students might want to use in a particular order to save some time and gain an even better understanding.

Why do I feel like I'm describing teaching à la granny sucking eggs? ;-)

Kia ora Ewan

Yes, I agree about the magnificent role of the teacher, as I said. What triggered my response were your words, "If you're a science teacher trying to explain magnetism".

A Science teacher trying to explain magnetism suggested to me that the pedagogy wasn't quite going the way it was intended to. If I was trying to explain magnetism, I can think of may excellent ways of doing that first and before attempting to instill more inspiration.

One of the dreams of the teacher is the self-starting learner who dives off to Wikipedia or other place to find out more. If this video caused a learner to do that the dream would be met.

Catchya later

Great video, indeed!
Though the best explanation of Magnetism theory is being done by Jacob Bogatin - the professor published over 100 articles about permanent magnets.

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Ewan McIntosh is the founder of NoTosh, the no-nonsense company that makes accessible the creative process required to innovate: to find meaningful problems and solve them.

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