Magnets and Their Poles

Magnets are used in many things. Compasses, engines, generators, and even some of your favorite toys use magnets. The whole Earth is surrounded by a gigantic magnetic field with north and south poles!

In fact, every magnet has a north pole and a south pole. These are the two ends of the magnet. The north pole and the south pole attract each other. This attraction is strong. If you set down two magnets, they will move and snap together! Each north pole connects to each south pole.

But two north poles or two south poles will repel each other. They push away. If you pull apart your two magnets, and try to hold together two ends that didn’t snap together, you’ll feel them push apart. The force is strong!

The poles are always at the ends. So if you change the magnet, the poles change. Cut a magnet in two, and you’ll have two new magnets—each with a north and a south pole.

Magnets are usually made of iron. But you can use other metals as well.

The Amazing Paper Clip Chain

Do you have a strong magnet and some paper clips? Put a paper clip next to the magnet. Snap! The paper clip attaches. Now put a second paper clip next to the first paper clip. If the magnet is strong enough, the second paper clip will snap to the first one! As if the first paperclip was a magnet!

Now, a thin refrigerator magnet may not work. You may have to hunt around to find a thicker magnet.

But if you find a good strong magnet, you can snap a third paper clip to the second one! You can keep adding paper clips until you have a whole chain, all held together by the force of the magnet.

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