What are magnets?

Magnets are materials that attract or repel other objects through an invisible force called magnetism. Magnets have two ends to them called poles. They have a north pole and a south pole. The poles look the same but they do different things.



If you put the north pole of one magnet close to the south pole of another magnet they will attract because they are opposite poles. 



If you put the north pole of a magnet near the north pole of another magnet they won’t attract, they will repel. Magnets only attract opposite poles. 



This is because magnets create an invisible magnetic field. The magnetic field has its own direction. It goes from the north pole to the south pole. This explains it all! When you bring the north pole of one magnet to the south pole of another magnet, the magnets will try to reduce the space between the opposite poles so the magnetic field can complete its path quickly. The result is magnetic attraction. 

If you try and put the same side poles together, they will repel because that’s not the direction the magnetic field follows. The result is magnetic repulsion.

Magnets attract objects made of materials like iron, nickel, cobalt and steel. Magnets attract paper clips, scissors or screws. Magnets do not attract paper, rubber, wood or plastic. 

Permanent magnets mainly contain iron. These are the ones you have probably seen the most. 

Interesting fact: if you cut a magnet in half it will create a new pole so you will have two identical magnets, each with a north and a south pole. You will never find a magnet with just a north pole or just a south pole, they will always have both.