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They're Everywhere!

Magnets are everywhere. Whenever you use a computer, microwave oven, refrigerator, copy machine or stereo speakers, you are using magnets!


What is a magnet, anyway?

A magnet is something that has magnetic force.

The next question is "What is a magnetic force?" A magnetic force attracts iron and steel.

Magnets are materials that attract iron and steel.

There are many different types of magnets. We will forus on these three: natural, temporary and permanent magnets.

Natural magnets occur naturally in nature. The mineral magnetite is a natural magnet. It is also called lodestone and can attract iron.

Think about it!

What is the largest magnet around? Use the hints below to figure it out and then highlight the box to see if you were correct.

  • It is larger than a bread box.
  • It is larger than a whale.
  • It is larger than a mountain.
  • It is larger than North America.
  • You live on it!
Highlight the box below to see the answer!

What is the biggest magnet?


The Earth is a huge magnet.


Make a magnet!

A temporary magnet is a magnet that has magnetic force for a short time. You can make a temporary magnet.


  • Large nail with a small head (Reminder: Nails are sharp - be careful!)
  • Bar magnet
  • Straight pins


  1. Rub the nail with one end of a bar magnet, and make sure to rub the nail in the same direction each time.
  2. Using the other end of the magnet, stroke the opposite end of the nail several times.
  3. Slowly move the nail near some lightweight metal objects such as straight pins.
  4. Record what happens. Why do you think that some metal objects will not be attracted to magnets?

You can magnetize a steel needle by rubbing a magnet in one direction along the needle. This creates a magnetic force in the needle so it acts like a magnet. Soon, however, the needle will loose its magnetic force. You can do the same thing with a paper clip. It also will lose its magnetic force quickly. Try it!!


It's permanent

Permanent magnets keep their magnetic force. The magnets that you used to magnetize the needle or paper clip, the magnet used to stick reminders to your refrigerator, and the magnets that engineers use in dams to make electricity are examples of permanent magnets.


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  1. The title of the activity
  2. The URL (Internet address)
  3. Your name.
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Teachers should view the Teacher Site Map to relate Sci-ber text and the USOE 5th grade science core.

Updated October 24, 2008 by: Glen Westbroek

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