All About Magnetism and How it Works

Magnetism Quiz
Magnetism Quiz

From your clothes to your desk, every bit of matter is made of tiny particles called atoms. Atoms have negatively charged electrons that spin around them. Most of the time, the electrons spin in random directions. When the electrons all spin in the same direction, though, they create an invisible force known as magnetism.

Magnetism Facts For Kids

  • Magnetism arises from moving electric charges.
  • Opposite poles attract; like poles repel.
  • Earth has a magnetic field: geomagnetism.
  • Iron, cobalt, nickel are naturally magnetic.
  • Magnetic fields are invisible.
  • Magnets can induce electricity in coils.
  • MRI machines use strong magnets.
  • The Earth’s magnetic poles can reverse.
  • Magnetic fields measured in teslas (T).
  • “Magnetic levitation” can float trains.


Electromagnetism, a specialized sector of physics, integrates the powers of electricity and magnetism into a singularly impressive force. This captivating energy underpins numerous daily human activities and technologies, such as using a computer, or tablet, or simply switching on a light, all of which are contingent on the interplay between electric currents and magnetic fields.

A tangible and engaging demonstration of electromagnetism, particularly appealing to children, is the electromagnet. These potent magnets, whose functionality can be manipulated through the application or removal of electricity, encapsulate the essence of the controllable magnetic force known as electromagnetism.

Magnetic Fields

Magnetic fields, which can be likened to invisible force fields, are unseen areas where a magnet’s pull is at its peak.

These fields, though unseen, encompass a magnet and are most potent at the poles, typically identified as the north and south ends, mirroring the Earth’s geographical poles. Intriguingly, a magnet will always possess two poles, and even if split in half, each segment will retain a north and a south pole.

Furthermore, magnetic fields play a crucial role in the operation of compasses, providing invaluable directional assistance to adventurers and explorers.


Ferromagnetism, a unique type of magnetism, is exclusively found in certain substances such as iron, cobalt, and nickel. The distinct characteristic of ferromagnetism is its ability to retain magnetization, even after removal from a magnetic field.

This phenomenon, like the iron ‘remembering’ the magnetic field, is due to the alignment of microscopic magnets within the substance, creating a strong magnetic field. This explains why iron is used in the manufacture of permanent magnets. Therefore, this enduring magnetization is not a magical occurrence but a result of the fascinating scientific concept of ferromagnetism.

Earth’s Magnetic Field

The Earth’s magnetic field, an amazing natural occurrence, encapsulates our planet daily, exemplifying the magnetism we experience in everyday life. This force field, though unseen, serves as a mighty barrier against detrimental solar radiation and provides a navigational aid for various species during migration, including directing compasses towards the north.

Generated in the Earth’s outer core by hot, molten iron that forms electrical currents, this magnetic field stretches far into space. Similar to a typical bar magnet, it features both a north and a south pole. Consequently, when we mention the North and South poles, we’re actually referencing these magnetic poles of the Earth!

Magnetic Poles

The two extremities of a magnet where the magnetic force is most powerful are known as magnetic poles. Regardless of a magnet’s dimensions or form, it always possesses two poles: a north and a south pole. Even if a magnet is sliced in half, the resulting pieces maintain both poles.

This characteristic is due to the fact that magnetism is a result of electron movement, which are minuscule particles within atoms. When magnets are in close proximity, there is an attraction between opposite poles and a repulsion between identical poles. This intriguing aspect of magnetism is a great subject for engaging science experiments for children!

Electromagnetic Induction

Electromagnetic induction, a captivating aspect of magnetism that children will find intriguing, refers to the creation of an electric current by altering or moving a magnetic field. This principle, discovered by scientist Michael Faraday in the 19th century, is instrumental in powering many common items, including electric generators, transformers, and certain types of electric motors.

For instance, when a light switch is flicked on, electromagnetic induction significantly contributes to this process. By grasping this concept, children can gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of how electricity is generated and transmitted, making the abstract idea of magnetism more tangible and relatable in their daily lives.

Magnetic Materials

Magnetic materials, such as iron, nickel, and cobalt, are objects that have the ability to be attracted to a magnet or can become magnetized themselves. These materials, also known as ferromagnetic materials, become magnetized when they come into contact with a magnet due to the alignment of their magnetic molecules in the same direction as the magnetic field.

This particular characteristic explains why fridge magnets stick! Contrarily, not all materials possess this property. Materials like plastic, wood or glass, categorized as non-magnetic materials, remain unaffected by magnets. Therefore, when conducting a magnet experiment, it’s essential to select the appropriate materials.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Magnetism is a vital component in the operation of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) technology, an advanced medical tool that generates detailed body scans. Essentially, the MRI scanner, a large, powerful magnet aligns the water molecules inside the body in a specific direction.

The application of radio waves causes these molecules to emit signals, which the scanner captures and transforms into clear images. This technique enables doctors to diagnose a variety of health conditions without resorting to harmful radiation. Thus, the MRI machine stands as a remarkable example of the practical application of magnetism in medical technology.

Magnetic Levitation

Magnetic Levitation, or ‘Maglev’, is an intriguing scientific concept that could captivate young minds. It utilizes magnetic fields to elevate objects without any physical support, a phenomenon occurring due to the magnetic forces being sufficiently robust to negate gravitational forces.

This fascinating technology is prominently employed in high-speed trains, which seemingly ‘float’ above the tracks, hence called maglev trains. This is made possible by the antagonistic magnetic fields between the train and the track, effectively diminishing friction and enabling the train to operate at tremendous speeds. Thus, delving into the understanding of magnetism could provide a glimpse into the world of ‘magic’.

Gauss’s Law for Magnetism

Gauss’s Law for Magnetism is a key scientific principle that can enhance children’s comprehension of the captivating realm of magnets. This law articulates that the sum of the magnetic field that exits or enters an enclosed area is perpetually zero, which translates to the idea that magnets invariably possess a north and a south pole.

An interesting implication of this is that if one attempts to divide these poles by slicing a magnet into two, what results are two new magnets, each boasting its individual north and south poles. This intriguing aspect of magnetism can pique a child’s curiosity, fostering a deeper fascination and engagement with the marvels of science.

Magnet Poles Image -Science for Kids All About Magnetism
All About Magnetism: The two ends of a magnet are called the north and south poles.

When something is magnetic, it can pull things with steel or iron in them to it. The two ends of a magnet are called the north and south poles. These are the parts where the magnets are strongest. Around these poles is an area known as a magnetic field. In the magnetic field, other objects can be drawn to the magnet.

Magnet Attracting Coins Image
Magnet Attracts metals like iron or steel.

Fun Facts about Magnetism for Kids

  • The Earth is a very big magnet. Its North and South poles are highly magnetic.
  • The Earth’s magnetic force is not very strong. The magnets on your refrigerator have more magnetic force.
  • A collapsed star, known as a neutron star, has the strongest magnetic force of any object in the universe.
  • A compass has a tiny magnet in it. The arrow always points to the North Pole.
Compass Image
A compass has a tiny magnet in it. The arrow always points to the North Pole.

Learn More All About Magnetism and How It Works

Magnetic Field Image
Around magnet poles is an area known as a magnetic field. In the magnetic field, other objects can be drawn to the magnet.

Watch this amazing video all about magnetism that will blow your mind!

A video explanation about the science behind magnetism.

Magnetism Q&A

Question: Do magnets always attract objects?

Answer: Not all objects are attracted to magnets. Wood, plastic, glass, fabric, silver, gold and other metals are not affected.


Question: What happens if I put two magnets together?

Answer: A north pole will attract a south pole. If you put a north pole next to a north pole, they will push against each other or repel each other.