Magnet Races

On a rainy Saturday afternoon, my friend Jesse and I had nothing to do. The Race Day at the park was canceled because of the rain. Jesse and I had signed up to run in the relay race together. My mom told us that the park would reschedule Race Day. Then we could run the relay race. But we still had nothing to do that afternoon.

“Have a race here,” Mom said.

“We can run through the house?” I asked. I could not believe it. We never got to run through the house.

“No. No running. Have another kind of race.” She walked over to the refrigerator. She pointed at the magnets that were stuck to the front of the refrigerator.

“Have a magnet race,” she said.

“How do we do that?” Jesse asked.

Mom told us to take some of the magnets from the refrigerator. Then she cut a piece of white paper from a big paper roll. She set the piece of paper down on the kitchen floor. I brought my markers from my room.

“Before you can have a race, you need a race course,” she said. Jesse and I carefully drew a race course on the big piece of white paper. We drew twists and turns. We kept the path wide enough for us to move the magnets across the paper.

When we were done, we knelt down in front of the paper. Jesse put a red magnet at the start of his lane. I put a blue magnet at the start of my lane. We each held a yellow magnet in our hands.

Mom stood by and said, “Remember not to touch your yellow magnets to your other magnets. Go!”

I put my yellow magnet on the paper, right behind the blue magnet. The blue magnet shot backwards and stuck to the yellow magnet.

“Better turn your magnet around,” Mom said.

I looked over and saw that Jesse's yellow magnet was slowly pushing his red magnet forward along his lane. I turned my yellow magnet around and put it behind the blue magnet again. This time the blue magnet wiggled a little bit. Then it moved forward and stopped. I moved the yellow magnet forward, and the blue magnet pushed forward again.

It took a while for Jesse and me to get our magnets around the course. We did draw a lot of twists and turns. Then our magnets were in the last inches of our lanes. Jesse's red magnet was a little bit ahead of my blue magnet. With a final push from his yellow magnet, Jesse's red magnet crossed the finish line first.

“I think I'm getting the hang of this,” Jesse said. We laughed. Then we put our magnets back at the beginning of the race course. We raced again and again until it was time for dinner.

Activity

  1. The characters in this story raced red and blue magnets. How did they move their magnets through the race course? What made the magnets move?
    [anno: They moved their red and blue magnets with the yellow magnets. The yellow magnets repelled the red and blue magnets, so the red and blue magnets moved forward.]
  2. Why did the blue magnet shoot backwards at the beginning of the race? What did the character do after that?
    [anno: The blue magnet shot backwards at the beginning of the race because it was attracted to the yellow magnet. The character turned the yellow magnet around. Then the yellow magnet repelled the blue magnet instead of attracting it.]
  3. What is another game you could play with magnets? Invent a game that uses magnets. How does the game use the magnets? What other materials do you need? Write a few sentences about another game that uses magnets.
    [anno: Answers will vary.]