Magnets are objects that produce an area of magnetic force called a magnetic field.
Magnetic fields by themselves are invisible to the human eye.
Iron filings can be used to show magnetic fields created by magnets (such as in the picture to the right).
Magnets only attract certain types of metals, other materials such as glass, plastic and wood aren't attracted.
Metals such as iron, nickel and cobalt are attracted to magnets.
Most metals however are not attracted to magnets, these include copper, silver, gold, magnesium, platinum, aluminium and more. They may however magnetize a small amount while placed in a magnetic field.
Magnetism can attract magnetic objects or push them away.
Magnets have a magnetic north pole and a magnetic south pole. If the same pole of two magnets are placed near each other they will push away (repel), while if different poles are placed near each other they will pull together (attract).
Magnetic objects must be inside the magnetic field to respond, which is why you may have to move a magnet closer for it to have an effect.
The Earth's core is believed to be a mix (alloy) of iron and nickel, giving the Earth its own magnetic field.
The Earth's magnetic field is responsible for deflecting the solar wind, charged particles that come from the Sun.
Magnetic compasses use the Earth's magnetic field to help navigate in north, south, east and west directions.
Electromagnets are created by an electric current running through a surrounding coil. They have many uses including the generation of electricity in hydroelectric dams.