Most students will study electricity and magnetism at some point. And there is no better way to learn the basics than by experimentation and observation! Enter The Study of Elementary Electricity and Magnetism by Experiment by Thomas St. John. The subtitle of the book says it all: Containing Two Hundred Experiments Performed with Simple, Home-made Apparatus — a do-it-yourself science book!
Don’t let the word elementary in the title fool you, though. This gem is for middle grades and up (or very precocious older elementary students). And as with most books of this nature in the public domain, depending on the age and skill of your child, you may want to supervise the experiments — particularly those dealing with electricity.
As implied in the title, part of the book’s appeal is that the student makes his own magnetic and electrical equipment that is used throughout the text. If you are wondering what types of things will be needed for such an adventure, you can check the handy List of Apparatus toward the back of the book.
The book starts with a set of eight “don’ts” that encourages young students to:
- Create rather than purchase their own apparatus.
- Find a suitable work area.
- Read the instructions before starting.
- Pay attention to details.
- Understand what is happening before moving ahead.
- Ask questions and form an opinion before checking to see what the author says.
- Keep a notebook [love this book].
- Clean up after you are finished.
The 486 topics and 200 experiments cover:
- The properties of iron.
- The properties of magnets.
- Making a small magnet.
- Understanding polarity.
- Making a compass.
- Residual magnetism.
- Inducing magnetism.
- Observing magnetic fields.
- The earth’s magnetism.
- Types of electricity.
- The properties of conductors and insulators.
- Charging conductors.
- Electric fields.
- Condensers (capacitors in modern language).
- Atmospheric electricity.
- Current electricity.
- Producing electricity by heat.
- Inducing electricity.
- Applications of electricity.
- And much more!
Although we do use slightly different names for things these days in some cases (capacitors instead of condensers as mentioned above), the principles remain the same. If a student experiments through all 486 topics he will be well on his way to a very firm foundation in understanding magnetism and electricity!
Add a science notebook and you have the perfect DIY Handy-Mom science class — and it’s free!
10 Ways to Use Notebooking: #7 Science
Ideas for keeping that notebook!