Why do magnets attract metal 1

Magnets / magnetism simply explained

The subject of magnets and magnetism is simply explained here. Summary of the content:

  • A Explanationwhat a magnet or magnetism is.
  • Some Examples to magnets and magnetism.
  • tasks / Exercises so that you can practice this topic yourself.
  • A Videowhich deals with magnets and magnetism.
  • A Question and answer area around this topic.

This article is part of our electrical engineering course "From the basics of electrical engineering in 5th grade to becoming an engineer".

Explanation magnets / magnetism

Even in elementary school, children are often given a magnet. They then hold them in front of certain objects and they are attracted as if by "magic hand". So let's first clarify: What is a magnet?


Magnets are bodies that attract other bodies made of iron, cobalt, and nickel. Some bodies have these properties permanently and are therefore referred to as permanent magnets or permanent magnets.

Magnets come in a wide variety of designs. A very simple shape for a magnet is a Bar magnet:

Another typical design is the Horseshoe magnet:

A distinction is made in magnets between a north pole and a south pole. The North Pole (N) is highlighted in red, the South Pole (S) is marked in green. The magnet exerts force effects. The force is strongest at the ends of the magnet, which is also called Magnetic poles designated.

One brings two magnets together, two things can happen: the magnets attract or repel each other. This depends on how the magnetic poles relate to each other. The following applies:

  • Two south poles repel each other.
  • Two north poles repel each other.
  • North Pole and South Pole attract each other.

More on this in the article Pole Laws.

Let's take a bar magnet, for example, and break it through in the middle. What happens now Hard to believe, but we get two new bar magnets that also have a north pole and a south pole. We can now keep dividing the halved bar magnets and would get smaller and smaller bar magnets.

The reason for this is that magnetizable materials consist of very tiny areas, each of which behaves like a magnet. This is known as Elementary magnets. These elementary magnets can be aligned with another magnet. In this way you can magnetize a body. Demagnetization can be carried out by means of heat and vibrations. More on this in the article Magnetizing / Demagnetizing.

One more question remains: what are magnetic fields? Magnetic fields arise around a magnet. The space around a magnet in which magnetic effects can be observed is called Magnetic field. These are visually represented by field lines. For a bar magnet this can be represented as follows:

Let's look at this more closely under magnetic field. The earth also has a magnetic field. We treat this under the Earth's magnetic field.


Examples of magnets / magnetism

In this section a number of examples of magnets and magnetism will be dealt with. We look at tasks that teachers like to set in school and then solve them.

example 1:

Name three substances made by a magnet Not get dressed by?

Solution: Here you could name, for example, wood, plastic, glass, gold or silver.

Example 2:

What is a compass and how does it work?

Solution: The compass is an instrument for determining the direction, for example the cardinal point (north, south, west, east). The classic device is a magnetic compass, which uses the earth's magnetic field to determine the magnetic north direction and, from this, all other cardinal directions. In other words: you can use it to determine a direction. The housing of a compass must not be made of iron, otherwise the compass needle would point somewhere.

Example 3:

What happens if you break a magnet?

Solution: If you break a magnet you get two magnets, each with a north pole and a south pole.

Example 4:

Four pictures are to be drawn. Both possibilities are to be shown in which magnets repel each other and both possibilities are drawn in which they attract each other.

Solution: The same poles repel each other and different poles attract each other. It looks like this:

Tasks / exercises magnetism


Magnets / Magnetism Video

Basics of magnetism

The next video deals with the basics of magnets and magnetism, as they are already partially treated in elementary school. It explains what a magnet is and which poles it has. The designs of magnets and magnetic field lines are also discussed.

Next video »

Questions with answers about magnets / magentism

This section deals with typical questions with answers about magnets and magnetism.

Q: When is the subject of magnets / magnetism discussed in school?

A: With magnets or magnetism, it often starts in elementary school. Then children can use a magnet to attract a few objects. However, the topic does not really start until the 5th or 6th grade. Here you can also take a closer look at the magnetic field lines. However, computing in the magnetic field comes later. How much later also depends on the state.

Q: What topics are there to learn about magnets / magnetism?

A: We've covered some basics about magnets and magnetism here. Here is a list of the absolute basic items we have here: