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ERIC Number: EJ1025032
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013-Nov
Pages: 2
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 7
ISSN: ISSN-0031-921X
Common Magnets, Unexpected Polarities
Olson, Mark
Physics Teacher, v51 n8 p454-455 Nov 2013
In this paper, I discuss a "misconception" in magnetism so simple and pervasive as to be typically unnoticed. That magnets have poles might be considered one of the more straightforward notions in introductory physics. However, the magnets common to students' experiences are likely different from those presented in educational contexts. This leads students, in my experience, to frequently and erroneously attribute magnetic poles based on "geometric associations" rather than actual observed behavior. This polarity discrepancy can provide teachers the opportunity to engage students in authentic inquiry about objects in their daily experiences. I've found that investigation of the magnetic polarities of common magnets provides a productive context for students in which to develop valuable and authentic scientific inquiry practices.
American Association of Physics Teachers. One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740. Tel: 301-209-3300; Fax: 301-209-0845; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A