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Magnets and Electricity

Opposites Attract!

Car Lifted by Electro-Magnet With a strong enough magnet, you can lift a car.

In a Flash

Magnets and Electricity

In most objects, all the atoms are in balance with half of the electrons spinning in one direction and half spinning in the other direction. They are spaced randomly in the object.

Magnets are quite different with the atoms at one end having electrons spinning in one direction, while those at the other end spin in the opposite direction. The electrons don't spin in a balanced way. Instead, the electrons line up. This creates a force of energy called a magnetic field around a magnet.

We call one end of the magnet the North (N) pole and the other end the South (S) pole. The force of the magnetic field flows from the North pole to the South pole.

Magnet Diagram You can turn a piece of iron into a magnet.

If you have ever held two magnets close to each other you would have found that if you try to push the two North poles or the two South poles together, they repel each other. If you put the North pole near the South pole however they pull together, they attract each other.

Electricity can make magnets

If you follow the instructions in the Activity Electromagnetism you will find you can make a magnet with an iron bolt or nail.

Magnets and Electricity Diagram Magnets can create energy.

Magnets can make electricity

Just as we can make magnets from electricity we can also use magnets to make electricity. A magnetic field pulls and pushes electrons in some objects near them to make them move.

Metals, like copper, have electrons that are moved easily and can be readily moved from their orbits. If a magnet is moved quickly through a coil of copper wire, electrons move and electricity is made.