Outer Core Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Josh Corbat

Josh has taught Earth Science and Physical Science at the High School level and holds a Master of Education degree from UNC-Chapel Hill.

Earth is divided into three main parts: the crust, the mantle, and the core. But did you know that the core is actually made of two different layers? In this lesson, we will talk about the outer core of Earth.

Earth's Layers

What happens if you mix oil and water together? The oil stays on top of the water because oil is less dense than water. Density refers to how much space something takes up and how heavy it is. The more space something takes up and the heavier it is, the denser the material will be. If you have never seen this, try it now with some water and cooking oil!

The earth beneath our feet is made up of layers. Like the oil and water, Earth's layers are divided by how dense they are.

The water goes to the bottom of the cup because it is denser than the oil. This experiment illustrates how the core got to be in the center of Earth, because the core is the densest layer.
Oil and water

Earth is made up of several layers. At the surface of the earth, or the part we walk on, is the least dense layer. Each layer below the surface becomes denser and denser. The core is the layer at the center of the earth, and it is made of materials that make it the densest layer. You may have heard all of this stuff already, but did you know that the core is actually two layers? Let's take a look at one of these layers, the outer core.

The Layers of the Earth
Earths layers

About the Outer Core

The core is made mostly of two metals called iron and nickel. The outer core is the outer layer of the core that is made of liquid iron and nickel. Since it is a liquid, the outer core can spin, and it does. This spinning causes the entire planet to be magnetic (think of a refrigerator magnet). The magnetism of Earth actually helps us a lot, because it stops some harmful materials from hitting our planet.

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