Top 11 Fascinating And Fun Facts About Magnets For Kids

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Magnets can be fascinating as they attract certain materials and build curiosity in our minds (1). However, you should follow some precautions while buying magnets for kids so that there is no risk of choking as they come in different shapes and sizes. Regardless of its size, every magnet produces magnetic properties. Metals such as iron, nickel, and cobalt are strongly attracted to magnets, while other materials such as plastic, glass, or cloth are not attracted. The concept of magnets and magnetic fields is intriguing for children. Read this post as we tell you some interesting facts about magnets for children.

How Do Magnets Work?

A magnetic field cannot be seen but it can be felt. For years, magnets have been a source of curiosity for scientists and researchers.

After extensive research over several centuries, scientists discovered unique atomic structures are the reason for the magnet’s behavior. Every element is made up of atoms, and each atom contains protons, electrons, and neutrons. Electrons are negative ions that orbit the nucleus (center of the atom). When these electrons spin in the same direction, the object becomes magnetic. Elements are made up of millions of atoms, and each atom’s magnetic fields add up to make element magnetic (2).

Magnets are usually made of iron or metals similar to iron, such as steel. There is a natural rock called lodestone that serves as a magnet, too.

What Is A Magnetic Field?

Take a bar magnet and place iron nails near it. There will be a powerful attraction between them at certain places. Slowly move the magnet closer to the nails to see them move towards it. The area in which the magnet’s force is the strongest is called the magnetic field. It is invisible, but you can see it using a simple experiment.

  • Place a bar magnet on a sheet of paper.
  • Sprinkle iron filings around the magnet on the sheet of paper.
  • Lift the paper and shake it gently.
  • The iron filings will arrange themselves in a particular arc-like pattern around the magnet.

Electricity And Magnets

While lodestone is a natural magnet, we come across human-made ones in our daily lives. The magnets can be made in different ways, but the most common and effective ones are electromagnets created by combining electricity and magnetism.

These electromagnets are widely used everywhere, from home appliances to wind turbines. They are temporary magnets that become magnetic only when electricity passes through them. They come in the form of iron rods with copper wires coiled tightly along their length. When the wires are connected to an electric supply, the iron rod works like a magnet.

Electromagnets are commonly found in doorbells, radios, headphones, loudspeakers, motors, and generators. They are used when you need the magnetic field to work for only a certain time (3).

Types Of Magnets

Here are three major types of magnets explained.

1. Permanent magnets

These magnets do not lose their magnetism once they are magnetized. There are four types of permanent magnets:

  • Ceramic or ferrite
  • Alnico
  • Samarium Cobalt (SmCo)
  • Neodymium Iron Boron (NIB)

2. Temporary magnets

These get magnetized only when they are in the presence of a magnet. When the magnet is removed, they lose their magnetism. Iron nails or paperclips are examples of temporary magnets.

3. Electromagnets

Electromagnets are commonly used in the appliances we use in our daily lives (4). They are made by coiling metal wires tightly around metal bars, which become magnetic the moment electricity passes through the wires. These magnets are used when magnetism is needed only for a certain period of time.

Facts About Magnets

There are some fun facts about magnets that children will enjoy.

  1. The Earth is a huge magnet.
  1. Every magnet has two poles called the North Pole and the South Pole.
  1. Two opposite poles attract each other while two similar poles repel.
  1. Magnets can lose their properties if placed in the presence of a stronger magnet for extended periods. They can also lose their magnetic properties if you drop them, heat them, or damage them.
  1. If you tie a string to the middle of a bar magnet and suspend it in mid-air, it will always come to rest in the same position. The magnet’s North Pole would align to the Earth’s North Pole. It is the reason why magnets are also used in a compass.
  1. The Earth’s magnetic field helps birds migrate to warm lands every year.
  1. Monorails and metros run on strong magnetic fields. Magnetism helps reduce friction and thus increases speed.
  1. Depending on the strength of the magnet, it can pull through various objects. That’s why you can attach a piece of paper to your fridge using a magnet.
  1. Several metals are not attracted to magnets.
  1. If you cut a bar magnet in half, each half has the North Pole and the South Pole.
  1. Scientists use an instrument called a magnetometer to determine the age of rocks. These rocks get magnetized to some extent by the Earth’s magnetic field, and the magnetometer helps scientists determine the levels of magnetization.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Which device helps to measure the strength of the magnetic field?

A magnetometer measures the strength of the magnetic field in SI units, Tesla (T). This magnetic field strength in gauss units (G) is measured by the gaussmeter (5).

2. Does the magnetic field penetrate only through the air?

No. Apart from air, magnetic fields can pass through solid materials, such as wood, concrete, water, copper, Teflon, and even space (6).

3. What are the properties of magnetic lines of force?

Magnetic lines of force hold several properties. Some of them include (7):

  • They do not cross one another
  • They have the same strength
  • Their density decrease with the increase in the distance from the poles
  • They flow from the north pole to the south pole in the air and the south pole to the north pole in the material
  • Their density decreases on moving from an area of high permeability to low permeability

Magnets for kids are highly fascinating. Children begin to play with magnets from a young age as they are entertained. However, they are mostly unaware that these magnets are among the first scientific objects that pass their hands. Magnets have multiple scientific properties and are used in many objects we use in our daily lives. Therefore, you must ensure to impart more knowledge about magnetic properties to children to encourage their interest in science.

Key Pointers

  • Magnets are objects that attract other metals towards them by creating a magnetic field.
  • There are three different types of magnets, each with various uses.
  • The earth itself is a magnet whose magnetic field helps birds migrate.
  • Not all metals are magnetic, and many more facts for children to learn as you scroll through.

References:

MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
1. Magnets from Mini to Mighty, Magnet Academy
2. Magnetism, National Geographic Society
3. Magnets for Pain, NCCIH
4. Electricity Explained – Magnets and electricity, U.S. Energy Information
5. Measuring Magnetic Fields, Science Buddies
6. Magnetic Field Characteristics, Iowa State University
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Sravani Rebbapragada

Sravani holds a post-graduate degree in Biotechnology from SRM University, Chennai. Being an avid reader, she keeps herself up to date with research. Her interest lies in teaching new things to children in creative ways. For MomJunction, she covers literature and information/ facts articles for kids. Sravani likes to unwind by teaching to her son, spending time with her family,... more

Dana Sciullo

(MOT, OTR/L)
Dana Sciullo is a licensed and registered occupational therapist in the US, specializing in pediatrics. She received her undergraduate degree in Psychology and Masters degree in Occupational Therapy from the University of Pittsburgh.  Dana has been working as an occupational therapist since 2015 in multiple settings including schools, outpatient clinics, and telehealth. Having completed extensive continuing education in the areas... more

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