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It is a well-established fact that magnets are amazing. They are used and found everywhere. Yes, even to hold your straight “A” report card or an artistic masterpiece to your family’s fridge. But how are they made, and what do magnets comprise? What’s actually in a magnet? Well, that depends on whether we are talking about a manmade magnet or a natural magnet. Let us get down to answering your questions with some interesting information about magnets for children.
What Are Magnets?
What do fans, compasses, and high-speed trains have in common? Well, the answer is that they all use magnets to operate. Magnets are metals or rocks that form an invisible field around themselves, and this field attracts either other magnets or specific metals. It is due to this magnetic field that you can stick fridge magnets on a metal refrigerator.
A magnetic field is always concentrated around the ends of magnets. These ends are termed poles. Magnets always have two poles – the south pole and the north pole. One can feel the magnetic force if two magnets are held such that their poles are near each other. If these poles are opposite (south and north), an attraction between the magnets is felt. If the poles are identical (south and south or north and north), the magnets repel each other.
Why Are Magnets Important?
Magnets are essential, primarily because of the relationship between magnetism and electricity. Magnets are used widely in various devices, such as simple toys, refrigerators, computers, transportation, MRI machines, and business and medical equipment. Magnets are typically manufactured in different shapes and sizes to meet the requirements of various areas. The most commonly used magnets shapes are cylinder magnets, square magnets, round magnets, and arc magnets.
How Magnets Work
Now we have established that a magnet is an object that generates its own magnetic field, which then interacts and relates with other magnetic fields around it. Magnets consist of two poles, which are the north pole and the south pole. The magnetic field is signified by field lines that begin from a magnet’s north pole and end at the magnet’s south pole.
Magnetism is nothing but the magnetic force experienced when two magnets are next to each other. The magnetic force is generated by the magnetic field, which is in the direction of the field lines. If two magnets are placed next to each other with the same poles facing each other, one can observe that the field lines move away, creating a repelling force.
Similarly, if you place the south pole of one magnet next to the north pole of the other, then the field lines go straight from the south pole of the first magnet to the north pole of the second. This creates an attractive force between the two magnets, making this one of the most intriguing facts about electricity and magnetism. That is the reason that opposite poles of a magnet attract while like poles repel each other.
What Are the Types of Magnets?
While magnets themselves are materials that attract metals, there are three kinds of magnets you will come across. These three types of magnets are:
1. Permanent Magnets
Permanent magnets are the magnets that are most commonly used. These magnets are termed permanent magnets as they retain their magnetic property once they are magnetized. There are four types of permanent magnets, they are:
- Samarium Cobalt (SmCo)
- Ceramic or ferrite
- Neodymium Iron Boron (NIB)
2. Temporary Magnets
Temporary magnets can be magnetized when there is a magnetic field present around them. Once the magnetic field is removed, these materials always lose their magnetic property. Paper clips and iron nails are examples of temporary magnets. These temporary magnets are also called soft magnets.
Electromagnets comprise a coil of iron wire wrapped or enveloped around the metalcore. Once this material is exposed to an electric current, the magnetic field is created, making the material behave like a magnet. One can control the strength of the magnetic field by controlling the electric current.
Electricity and Magnets
The flow of electrons is termed electricity. As electrons pass through a wire, they make a magnetic field. Scientists believe that electricity and magnetism are part of a single force. This force is termed the electromagnetic force. Danish physicist Hans Christian Oersted discovered electromagnetism in the year 1820. With this discovery, scientists started to create magnets by passing electricity through a coil of wire that covered a magnetic material, such as iron. This type of magnet is known as an electromagnet. Electromagnets vary in strength. The strength is based on the size of the electric current and the number of times a wire is coiled. In junkyards, for example, powerful electromagnets are used to lift vehicles.
Other Must-Know Facts About Magnets for Kids
Following are some of the must-know and fun facts about magnets:
- Magnets only attract specific types of metals. They are generally made of steel or iron; however, you can also turn copper, aluminum, nickel, and cobalt into powerful magnets. Other materials, such as plastic, glass, and wood, are not attracted by magnets.
- It is believed that the earth’s core is an alloy of nickel and iron, which provides the earth its own magnetic field. Thus, the earth is a giant magnet in itself.
- The bar magnet has the south pole at one end and the north pole at the other.
- If a bar magnet is tied to a small piece of wood and then placed in a water bowl, it slowly rotates, and the north pole of the magnet points to the north pole of the earth.
- A magnet generates a magnetic field that is invisible to the human eye. However, if you place a bar magnet underneath a piece of paper and spread some iron powder on it lightly, the invisible magnetic field is observed as the particles get stuck to it.
- You can find magnets in stereos, phones, washing machines, vacuum cleaners, televisions, and various other things.
- A veterinarian sometimes uses a magnet to take out the wire from the animal’s stomach.
- Legend has it that a shepherd from the island of Crete was the first man to discover the magnet as his crook with an iron tip was attracted towards a stone as he passed over it. The first magnet was termed lodestone.
- Another legend is that Archimedes, an ancient Greek scientist, used magnets to pull nails from enemy ships.
- Magnetic compasses use the Earth’s magnetic field to help navigate south, north, west, and east directions.
While you now know how essential magnets are and how they help us in our day-to-day life, it does feel great to know some of the fun facts associated with this powerful substance. The next time you see a magnet, you can impress your friends with these cool, fun facts.