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Magnetic Poles For Kids | Science Experiment

Playing with magnets is always fun.

We bought some very strong magnets recently and they are perfect to show what magnetic field looks like.

shake iron filings onto a piece of paper to see magnetic force field

See Magnetic Field Experiment

Active Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

Warning: Magnets are very hazardous if swallowed.  Please keep them away from children who still put everything into their mouths.


  • a few strong magnets (neodymium magnets, a rare earth metal, are very strong magnets)
  • iron filings


  • a piece of paper
  • adult supervision


  1. Put two magnets underneath a piece of paper with 1 inch apart.

    Iron filings and magnets for magnet field kids' science experiment
  2. Carefully and slowly shake some iron filings onto the piece of paper above the magnets.

    shake iron filings onto a piece of paper to see magnetic force field
  3. If the iron filings are too far from the magnets, gently tap or shake the paper to move them closer to above the magnets.
  4. Observe how the filings move and distribute on the paper.
  5. Next, remove the iron filings or carefully poor them back into the bottle.
  6. Flip one of the magnets upside down.
  7. Repeat steps 1-4 to see what iron filing pattern is formed this time.

    magnet field kids' science experiment shows opposite poles attract field lines, and same poles repel

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Magnet attracts iron and the magnetism can act through many materials such as paper.  When iron filings are spread over the magnets, you can see the outline of the magnetic force or the magnetic field.

Magentic field of a bar magnet showing interactions

There are two poles in a magnet: a north pole (N) and a south pole (S).

Opposite poles attract. So when two magnets with opposite poles facing each other (e.g. one N and one S), magnetic forces appear between them. Iron filings are then aligned with the force field between the two magnets.

Magentic field of a bar magnet showing interactions

Same poles repel. So when two magnets with the same poles facing each other (e.g. both are N), each magnet’s force field moves away from the other. Because iron filings are aligned with the force field, they move away from the middle between the two magnets when you gently shake the paper.

iron filings show the magnetic field shapes in this Magnetic field experiment
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