How Are Magnets Made? - Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Tiffany Hightower

Tiffany is a certified elementary school teacher. She has a B.A. in English, education certification and a master's degree in education from Central Michigan University.

Magnets are fun, useful and amazing tools that are used in a variety of ways. Have you ever wondered how magnets are made? Continue reading to discover fascinating facts about how magnets are made.

What Are Magnets?

What can move metal objects and even make them dangle in the air without touching them? Magnets! You have probably had fun moving paper clips or nails around with a magnet and were excited because it seemed like magic, but there's actually a scientific explanation for how this works.

Magnets are materials that can attract or pull objects towards them. Lodestone is a type of rock that is a natural magnet on Earth. When you put it in a compass, lodestone naturally makes the compass point north and south because of the earth's magnetic field, or invisible force that pulls magnetic objects on the Earth. If you rub lodestone on other metals, like iron or steel, it can transfer its magnetism (or magnetic power) to those metals.

Magnets are made of different metals.

How Were Magnets Made Long Ago?

Long ago, people dug up lodestone and used it as a natural magnet. If they needed to create other kinds of magnets, they'd just rub it on some of those other metals. This is a simpler way to make magnets that we can still use, but we've also developed a lot of other magnet making strategies. Let's take a closer look at the more complex way that magnets are made today.

How Are Magnets Made in Factories Today?

We can use factories today to make large amounts of magnets. Different kinds of magnets are made with different materials and through different processes.

One method is to make a magnet out of a mixture of different types of metal. The metal is heated and melted, then placed in a cast, or container that's used to make a shape. The metal cools in the cast. Then magnetism is added to it, usually with a powerful electromagnet that's been magnetized by an electrical current. The magnet can also be magnetized by being placed in a magnetizer, which has a powerful magnetic field.

Another way magnets are made in factories is more complex and involves turning metals into powder in the magnet-making process. Different metals, including iron, boron and neodymium, are heated at extremely high temperatures to change them from a solid to a liquid. Then they're mixed together; when the liquid cools, it becomes a solid again. After that, the solid metal mixture is broken up into smaller pieces, and then ground up to make a metal powder. The powder is then placed into a container in the shape that the magnet will become, and powerful forces are used to force the powder to stick together to form its shape.

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