How Does a Magnet Work?
A magnet is usually made of iron or steel. Magnets can be of various shapes, but all of them have the ability to pull things towards themselves. This invisible force is called magnetism.
Magnetism is caused by the special way the iron molecules in the magnet are arranged. Each iron molecule is like a tiny magnet, in that it pulls other iron molecules toward itself.
Magnetism is concentrated around the poles (ends) of a magnet. A magnet has two poles, called the North Pole and the South Pole. The two poles may look the same but they behave differently.
Put one pole of a magnet near to a pole of another magnet, and watch what happens. You may feel an attraction (pulling) force as the two poles stick together. Alternatively, you may feel a repulsion (pushing) force, as the two poles push away from each other.
In all magnets, identical poles will repel (push away) each other, while different poles will pull towards each other. In a nonmagnetic iron bar, the molecules are jumbled. They pull in all possible directions, and their magnetism cancels out.
In a magnetized bar, the molecules all pull in the same direction. Now their magnetism accumulates and makes the bar one big magnet. A magnet will only attract other objects that contain a lot of iron.