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Teaching science through PLAY with Connetix

Enseigner les sciences par le JEU avec Connetix

Connetix magnetic sets are an amazing STEM resource to have at home and at school. As an early childhood educator, I have seen first-hand how valuable and versatile Connetix are for introducing natural science concepts to children.

Let's explore ways to combine Connetix tiles with teaching science through play, a passion here at Comme des Pirates.

Introduce biology

Floral Tiles

We used our Rainbow Connetix to capture and observe flowers in natural light. To do this, we pressed the flowers between the tiles to wrap them, which is a great way to experience the parts of a flower and the pollination process up close.

Floral Tiles

Life cycles

We made diagrams of the life cycle of a butterfly and a bird. We used a magnetic whiteboard and an erasable marker to add the steps. Children can identify the different steps before deciding the order in which they should be placed.

Note: All markers are different. Be sure to spot-test the erasable markers first!

Classification

We used Connetix as a platform for classifying animals into different categories. In particular, we compared land animals to marine animals, or nocturnal animals to daytime animals.

There are a multitude of ways to use this setup to classify categories. Some extra ideas: healthy vs. unhealthy foods, vertebrate groups, such as fish, mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians.

Animal classification with Connetix

Anatomy

By creating an anatomical model of the heart, we identified the different parts, observed how they fit together, and discussed the surprising role of each in the mechanical functions of the heart.

Other activities related to anatomy are also possible: the digestive system, the skeleton and the respiratory system!

Understanding physical laws

Refraction

We've used Connetix to perform refractions with artificial and natural light and even combined them to demonstrate mixing primary colors into secondary colors.

Refractions with Connetix

Refractions occur when a light wave passes through different media or objects. The speed of this wave changes, resulting in a change in direction. When light passes from air to tile, it is bent because the density of the two media is different. This creates a colorful image on a surface.

Reflections

We have enjoyed studying Connetix patterns using a mirror and want to extend this activity by creating half of a symmetrical object (like a butterfly) and using the mirror to complete it. Children could then challenge themselves to recreate the other half using actual tiles.

Reflections with Connetix

Reflections occur when light bounces off an object. If the object is smooth and shiny, like glass or water, it will reflect at the same angle, like in a mirror. You'll also notice that the colors bounce around the room when light reflects off the smooth, beveled tiles.

Identifying North and South poles

Connetix contain magnets that have a North pole and a South pole. You can observe this phenomenon when the same poles are placed close to each other and they repel each other, while opposites attract. You can use a bar magnet with a known North/South pole to determine which is closest on the tile.

Domino reaction chains

The dominoes activity is very popular in the Connetix game. It's about aligning tiles like dominoes before making them fall. This method works best when the domino track is linear.

Dominoes with Connetix

Shadow or opaque projections

We used stencils, chalk, stickers and cardboard to create opaque images when attached to the Connetixes. Add a light source, opaque images block light and cast shadows on the walls, ceiling or floor.

Casting shadows with Connetix

Color filters

We used this activity in class to decode secret messages. It works best with blue and red tiles and pens. Try writing an overlapping message in either color, then place them under each tile to reveal what is written.

Color filters with Connetix

Wondering how it works? White light contains and reflects all colors, so the paper appears the same color as the filter through which it is viewed. The text color absorbs all other colors.

So when looking at blue text through a red filter, it appears dark blue or black and can be seen. Red text, on the other hand, disappears almost completely because it reflects the red of the filter. The same goes for the blue filter.

By allowing different words to be seen clearly through different colored filters, the secret message is revealed!

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