Year 1 Science

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An Invisible Force



Do you have any 1p coins at home? Collect your coins and look at them. What are they made out of? They are made of metal. Can you pick one up without touching it? Don't use tweezers or pliers - you're not allowed to touch it with anything. So, can you pick it up?

Yes! How? With a magnet. If you hold a magnet close to the 1p coin (which is made of metal) it will come flying up to the magnet. Now, if you pull the coin off your magnet, what do you feel? You feel the magnet pull back. Hold your magnet close to the fridge door: can you feel the pull? Let the magnet touch the fridge and it won't fall. It sticks to the door! Put a pencil or shoe up against the fridge, and what happens? It just drops to the ground. But the magnet sticks.

It seems almost like magic, but it's not: it's magnetism that pulls the coin to the magnet, and that makes the magnet stick to the fridge door. We cannot see magnetism, but we can see what magnetism does. We can see the magnetic force attract a coin. We can see how a magnet holds a note or picture on the fridge door. In some cabinets you can see how little magnets keep the cabinet doors closed. And if you were to visit a scrapyard, you could see how huge metal magnets pick up things as big as a car!

Try It!

You will need: a piece of paper, a metal object (a 1p or 5p coin or paper clip work well), a magnet, a piece of sugar paper and a book

Go: Have your child start with a plain piece of paper. Show him how to put it flat in front of him, holding it horizontally with one hand. Put a coin or a paper clip on top. Now have your child put the magnet under the piece of paper. Tell him to move the magnet under the paper clip and to keep moving the magnet while he watches the paper clip move. Talk with your child about what's happening. The magnetic force is passing right through the piece of paper. See if it will pass through thicker objects. Try the same experiment with a piece of sugar paper and with a book.

This activity is adapted from pages 269 - 270 of What Your Year 1 Child Needs to Know, which can be purchased here.

Click below to see the related activity.

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