Experiment. Magnetism: Attraction and Repulsion

Magnets have a fairly long history on their resume, from lodestone and the astrolabe, to magnetic resonance imaging and neodymium, to name a few discoveries; and they are perfect for sparking curiosity in toddlers in scientific subjects. One of the main reasons it's practical to discuss a magnet experiment is that it can be done easily at home.

What is magnetism?

In simple terms, magnetism is the force exerted by one body to attract (approach) or repel (away) another. A magnet produces a magnetic field, which means that it will attract bodies that contain magnetic properties, such as iron or any metal that contains it. Let's remember that opposite poles attract each other, while if they are equal they repel. Magnets have two ends to them, North and South, just like on Earth; these poles look the same, but they don't perform the same. If you have two magnets that you try to bring together with north polarity, or two with south polarity, they will repel each other; but if you take a north polarity magnet with a south polarity magnet, they will attract each other.

All bodies are made up of small particles called atoms, which in turn are made up of a nucleus and particles called electrons, neutrons and protons, which are attached to it. When there is interaction between two or more bodies, matter acquires a new structure through bonds (union bridges) or they undergo chemical reactions.


  • A magnet: it can be one of the ones we usually have on the fridge.
  • Objects to test magnetism: metal objects, keys, wood, things of any other material.
  • An object to make notes: notebook, sheet of paper or an electronic device.
  • A glass or a glass pitcher.


  1. Classify the materials to be used (you can write it down on a list).
  2. Approach each of them to the magnet, one by one and consecutively. The children will notice that some objects are not attracted to the magnet, so they should make their notes for both those that are attracted and those that are not. It is important to explain why the objects were not attracted, even though some were metals.

The history of magnetism is ancient and it is well known that it cannot attract objects such as paper, plastic, glass or clothing. Magnets are normally made of ferrous metal, such as steel. There are different types of magnets and some have super fancy names like electromagnets, ceramic magnet, alnico, rare earth magnet, samarium cobalt, neodymium, etc., which refer to their electromagnetic properties. The ones we normally know about are, for the most part, made by man using electricity, although they can also be found in nature on the surface of the Earth, since in ancient times people created them by rubbing iron on the surface of the rock.

Magnets are great fun to play with, but they are also very important and are used in many ways in our world, apart from experiments, however, learning about them in this experiment can help youngsters interested in the world of science and technology. Do you have any experience that can help others to be interested in this world? Share it in the comments!

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