Magnetic Force Lesson for Kids: Definition & Examples

Instructor: Andrew Coley

Andy is an instructional coach and curriculum specialist. He's working on a Masters of Educational Leadership and is also an aspiring author for kids.

In this lesson, students will learn what causes a magnet to attract certain metals, and all about the forces that surround magnets and cause them to attract certain magnetic items.

Magnetism

Have you ever gone on a long hiking or camping trip? I bet if you did, at some point you used a compass to help find your way because compasses always point North. But why is that?

It's all caused by the power of magnetism! And magnetism is a really cool force that can do all sorts of things.

Compasses have used magnetism to help explorers for many years
compass

North or South?

A magnet generally has two parts: a north pole and a south pole. This isn't the North Pole where polar bears hang out, it's the part of the magnet that attracts the south pole of another magnet. These parts are why you can combine magnets together and make larger magnets. But if you try to put the same poles together, they will repel each other. They can only be attached to their opposite sides.

The poles of the magnet are very important to how magnets work. These poles are always pushing from the north, and pulling from the south. These constant forces cause magnets to have a magnetic field, an invisible magnetic area around the magnet. What is really crazy about magnets is if you cut a magnet in half, it creates a new south pole so the magnet always stays the same!

Magnets always have north and south poles
cutting

Magnetic Field

As you just learned, every magnet is surrounded by an invisible field that attracts magnetic material. This magnetic field can be seen when you put a magnet close to something magnetic and it starts to move. This is because the poles have created a pull from the magnet. This field can go through materials like wood and cloth, and even thicker material depending on the strength of a magnet. Magicians sometimes use this trick to make it appear that things are moving on a table, when really there's a magnet underneath!

Magnetic fields are very exciting, and are all around us. In fact the earth has a north and south pole that is magnetized, which creates a magnetic field around the earth. This is why your compass always points north!

This field surrounds the magnet.
magnets

Electrons

Did you know if you rub a magnet on some objects, that item can become magnetized for a short amount of time? To understand how this works, you'll need to know about atoms. Atoms are the tiny building blocks for everything on earth and are made up of three parts: protons, neutrons and electrons.

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