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Magnetism Topic Guide

Magnets and magnetic materials create pulling and pushing forces on each other when they are close. They attract or repel each other.

Many everyday objects rely on the force of magnetism; mobile phones, vacuum cleaners and fridges are just a few examples!

Teach your children about the magnetism using our handy topic guide!

Choose a section:
Teaching Ideas | Resources | Facts | Videos | Books | Links

Teaching Ideas

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Resources

The Magnets Pack

Magnetism Facts

  • Magnets occur naturally in the earth. According to legend, they are named after a Greek shepherd named Magnes who stood on a natural magnet (called a lodestone) and found that the metal nails in his shoe stuck to it!
  • All magnets have a north pole and a south pole.
  • Not all metals are attracted to magnets; only those that contain iron.
  • The Earth acts like a giant magnet. Compasses detect the planet’s magnetic field; the south pole of the compass’ magnet is attracted to the Earth’s North Pole and swings around towards it.
  • Electromagnets are made by applying an electric current to a coil of magnetic wire. They are useful when magnetism needs to be switched on and off, such as in a door that can be opened and locked remotely.
  • Birds can sense the Earth’s magnetic field, and use it to navigate.

Videos

How do magnets work?

Maddie Moate shows how magnets work using a slow-motion camera.

Running time: 1:42

Magnets: How it’s made

Learn how magnets are made.

Running time: 5:08

The Science Behind Magnets

This video is a great introduction to magnetism.

Running time: 4:45

Magnetism | The Dr. Binocs Show

Dr Binocs explains how magnets are attracted to each other.

Running time: 3:15

Books

Magnet Max

Magnet Max loves experimenting with magnets. He knows all about how they work and loves using them to attract new types of things. Join Max and his friend as they explore the science behind the magic.

Magnets Push, Magnets Pull

Explore the fascinating field of magnetism with this interactive picture book for young learners.

Forces and Magnets

Find out how we use forces everyday; which force pulls objects down holes and why Earth acts like a huge magnet. Explore which materials are magnetic and discover how to test them.

Find Out About Magnets

This book takes the reader through the different uses and aspects of magnetism: how magnets make engines work, how they can help you to find your way, and even how magnets can be switched on and off!

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