photo credit Nasa / Goddard Space Flight Center / Reto Stöckli
Magnets are used all over the world. Investigate all of the ways our lives are made easier, just by using magnetic forces!
Magnets All Around Us
Speakers use magnets to keep them under control. When speakers are in use, the noise makes a lot of movement. Magnets are needed to make sure the motion of the speakers is exactly right.
Refrigerator doors and kitchen cabinet doors usually have a piece or strip of magnet attached to the inside corner which connects with another magnet when the door is closed. This keeps doors sealed tightly, which is especially important if you are trying to keep all the cold air from the fridge inside!
Junkyards oftentimes have large cranes with a massive, super strong magnetic in order to pick up and move large amounts of metal. These cranes have strong magnets with such large magnetic fields that they are even able to lift cars off the ground!
Many useful medical supplies and tools use magnets to help detect changes to a person’s body and to help take pictures of people’s brains (these are called MRI). Some people even believe that magnetic bracelets and other jewelry can help make humans feel more energetic.
Rollercoasters at your favorite theme park would not run properly without magnets to help them out. Magnets pull the cars up steep inclines and most importantly, they help the train of cars brake at the end of the ride. Designers use two opposite magnets that quickly push together and keep the train from continuing past the loading stations.
Many trains and underground subways use magnets to help them run more smoothly. Engineers have discovered ways to use the idea that the same poles of a magnet repel each other. They use extremely strong magnets that repel each other to help the train push off from the station.
The entire EARTH is one gigantic magnet. Its magnetic field is extremely large. Just like any other magnet, the Earth has magnetic poles – North and South! Earth’s magnetic field actually comes from inside the planet. Way down, it’s really hot. It’s so hot that the iron is actually a liquid and it is constantly moving around. The motion of all that liquid iron is what causes the Earth’s magnetic field.
We would be in bad shape without the Earth’s magnetic field. It protects us from particles traveling from the sun!
Vending machines check each dollar bill as it is inserted into the bill collector. A special part of this bill collector tests to make sure the money is magnetic. Real bills are minted with ink containing iron and are therefore magnetic. If the bill is not magnetic, then it is counterfeit (or fake) money.
Fans use magnets to help their blades spin more quickly and quietly. The pushing forces of a magnet help the blades move without making as much noise because the parts do not touch.
Computers use magnets in their hard drive to store memory, read CDs and move smaller parts.
Many kid’s toys use magnets. Kids can test out the “magic” properties of magnets. It’s interesting for kids to investigate the invisible pushing and pulling forces.
Magnets are commonly used for attaching materials without causing damage. Teachers use magnets to attach papers to their magnetic white boards. Families attach pictures or good work to their refrigerators at home.
Airports use metal detectors equipped with magnets to help identify people who might be bringing unsafe materials onto airplanes. Handheld metal detectors can also be used. These are sometimes referred to as magnetic “wands.”
When someone uses a credit card or a gift card, they must “swipe” the card along a special machine. The black strip on the card has magnetic material in it which communicates with the machine to transfer the correct amount of money.
The magnets found in clocks and watches are used to help the hands of the clock move smoothly.
A compass is a tool used to determine which direction you are facing. A proper compass will point towards the north pole, because the north pole seeking end of the magnet was placed at its tip.
You may purchase magnets for all of your Hobbies & Magnetics Experiments at CMS Magnetics on the web at