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Uncovering Student Ideas in Physical Science, Volume 2: 39 New Electricity and Magnetism Formative Assessment Probes

by: Page Keeley and Rand Harrington

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If you and your students can’t get enough of a good thing, Volume 2 of Uncovering Student Ideas in Physical Science is just what you need. The book offers 39 new formative assessment probes, this time with a focus on electric charge, electric current, and magnets and electromagnetism. It can help you do everything from demystify electromagnetic fields to explain the real reason balloons stick to the wall after you rub them on your hair.

Like the other eight wildly popular books in the full series,Uncovering Student Ideas in Physical Science, Volume 2:

• Provides a collection of engaging questions, or formative assessment probes. Each probe in this volume is designed to uncover what students know—or think they know—about electric or magnetic phenomena or identify misunderstandings they may develop during instruction.

• Offers field-tested teacher materials that provide “best answers” along with distracters designed to reveal misconceptions that students commonly hold.

• Is easy to use by time-starved teachers like you. The new probes are short, easy-to-administer activities that come ready to reproduce. In addition to explaining the science content, the teacher materials note links to national standards and suggest grade-appropriate ways to present material so students will learn it accurately.

By helping you detect and then make sound instructional decisions to address students’ misconceptions, this new volume has the potential to transform your teaching.

“I have used this entire series for assessing student understanding, for small- and large-group class discussions, and to fill those five- or 10-minute ‘unexpected’ moments that arise during the day. The prompts are so popular that students beg to do them. … This series is so helpful that I would not consider teaching without it.”
—A teacher review of the Uncovering Student Ideas in Science series from the NSTA Science Store

Table of Contents



About the Authors


Section 1. Electric Charge

Concept Matrix

Related Standards

Related NSTA Press Books, NSTA Journal Articles, and

NSTA Learning Center Resources

1. Do the Objects Need to Touch?

2. How Will The Balloons Move?

3. Can It Be Charged?

4. What Happens When You Bring a Balloon Near a Wall?

5. Conductors or Insulators?

6. Does the Example Provide Evidence?

7. Where Can You Find Electric Charge?

8. Where Does The Charge Come From?

Section 2. Electric Current

Concept Matrix

Related Standards

Related NSTA Press Books, NSTA Journal Articles, and

NSTA Learning Center Resources

9. One Wire or Two?

10. How Can You Light the Light Bulb?

11. Where Do I Put the Switch?

12. How Do You Think about the Flow of Electric Current Through a Circuit?

13. How Bright Will the Bulbs Be?

14. Which Burns Brighter?

15. How Would You Rank the Brightness of the Bulbs?

16. How Does the Current in Each Battery Compare?

17. Does It Matter If the Wire Has Knots?

18. Does Electricity Leak from an Outlet?

19. Why Two Prongs?

20. Does the Weight Change?

21. How Fast Do the Charges Move?

Section 3. Magnets and Electromagnetism

Concept Matrix

Related Standards

Related NSTA Press Books, NSTA Journal Articles, and

NSTA Learning Center Resources

22. Can Magnets Push or Pull Without Touching?

23. Can You Pick It Up with a Magnet?

24. Does a Magnet Pick Up Any Kind of Metal?

25. What Happens When You Wrap a Magnet with Aluminum Foil?

26. What Happens If You Use the Other End of the Magnet?

27. Does a Magnet Work Without Air?

28. Which One Attracts?

29. How Would a Magnet Work on the Moon?

30. What Happens When You Hold a Magnet Near a Refrigerator?

31. What Happens When a Magnet Is Brought Near a Charged Ball?

32. What Makes It Stick?

33. What Happens When a Magnet Breaks?

34. How Can You represent a Magnetic Field?

35. How Can You Magnetize a Nail?

36. How Can You Make an Electromagnet?

37. Does the Type of Wire Make a Difference?

38. How Can You Make a Stronger Electromagnet?

39. What Happens When You Bring a Compass Near a Current Carrying Wire?


Download a sample chapter

Grade Levels

Elementary High School Middle School


Asking questions Assessment Circuits Communicating Curriculum Electrical circuits require a complete loop through which an electrical current can pass. (K-4) Electricity Electricity in circuits can produce light, heat, sound, and magnetic effects. (K-4) Electromagnetism Experimenting Inquiry Instructional Materials Interdisciplinary Lesson Plans Light, heat, electricity, and magnetism Observing Phenomena Physical Science Physical Science Physics Predicting Science as Inquiry Science process skills Scientific habits of mind Select teaching and assessment strategies that support the development of student understanding and nurture a community of science learners. Teacher Preparation Teachers of science plan an inquiry-based science program for their students Teaching Standards Teaching Strategies


Type NSTA Press BookPub Date 3/1/2014Pages 190ISBN 978-1-936137-37-4Stock # PB274X2

NSTA Press produces classroom-ready activities, hands-on approaches to inquiry, relevant professional development, the latest scientific education news and research, assessment and standards-based instruction.

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