Forces and Magnets for Kids
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Forces and Magnetism are a key part of the Science curriculum in many countries. Being good at Science helps you develop a real understanding of the way the world works and a confidence that many things in life have a rational explanation. A knowledge of forces and magnetism is useful in many scientific and engineering roles (e.g. mechanical, electronic, electrical, instrument engineers or technicians) and in life in general.
It is important to understand some of the key principles for Forces :
- Some forces act from a distance (e.g. gravity and magnetism) and some forces act on contact between objects (e.g. a boy kicking a ball).
- Gravity is the force that the centre of the earth exerts pulling all objects towards it which is why you come back down to earth after jumping on a trampoline! Famous scientists like Isaac Newton and Galileo worked all this gravitation theory many years ago!
- Some contact forces cause a drag to moving objects such as gases (e.g. air resistance slowing down a parachute), liquids (e.g. water resistance slowing down a swimmer) and solids (e.g. bicycle tyre brake friction slowing down a bike) which is why many things tend to slow down if no continual force is added.
- Force or motion can be transferred via springs, levers and gears etc.
Designing experiments to test out some of the above is great fun and playing some of our games and activities and reading and studying the notes will help too.
Magnets and Magnetism
It is important to understand some of the key principles for how magnets work :
- Magnets can attract or repel each other.
- Magnets have two poles. 'Like poles' repel each other whilst 'unlike poles attract'
- Some materials are attracted to magnets and others are not and it is important to be able to identify everyday items that are likely to be magnetic or not
- Magnets transmit forces at a distance and need no direct contact like many forces such as air resistance or kicking a ball
- The Earth acts like a magnet in terms of gravity
- Different shaped magnets produce different magnetic fields
- Some magnets are stronger than others
- Electromagnets work by passing an electric current through a coil over a metal core and can be switched on and off
- Magnets are used in compasses and it is important to know how these work
- Magnets are useful in many applications and studying some of these will give a better appreciation of magnetism
See below for our list of games, interactive training activities, experiments, tests and quizzes to help furnish you with a real understanding of forces, magnets and magnetism and how they are used in real life situations.
Watch how forces on a see-saw helps the pyramids be built. A good way to learn how levers work and an introduction for young children to force required....Read More
This is a great activity with a toy metal horse on a track. You have a piston for pushing and also a magnet for pulling the horse. See how far the horse gets before friction eventually stops it. Then put some items in its way (cone and then a brick wall)! Try again to see what happens.....Read More
There are 3 different games and levels : "medium", "hard" and "really hard". In the medium level game, see if you can help Max use the correct force direction to move the boulder to the target location! Should he push or should he pull the boulder? In the hard game, you need to choose the correct direction (pull or push) and power (a....Read More
A great activity with a small and bigger car on a track with a piston for pushing and also a 'high road' (gradient potential) for moving the car. Try again to see how far the car gets on the track before friction eventually stops it.....Read More
A great activity with a powerful magnet on a track with a plunger and spring for pushing the magnet along a rail. When friction stops the magnet it drops down and tries to pick up the object below. But will the magnet be able to pick up the small metal key, the large metal drum or the plastic duck? Try it to see what happens and again....Read More
This is a Gymnastics Spy Game where you have to avoid the smoke bombs set by the enemy Boldovian team in the Gymnastics competition. You need to use all your knowledge of forces to get past their sneaky traps. One game example is matching the Boldovian teams pulls in the tug of war. In another you need to use gravity to knock off the....Read More
Magnets attraction game. Stop the Thief, Sydney Barbour, stealing some priceless objects by attracting them to you with magnets before the thief gets them. But you must use your knowledge of North Poles attracting South Poles (and like poles repelling each other) to make it work! Then read the notes on Magnetic poles,....Read More
The aim of this superb game is to go on an undercover mission to find out which theme park ride has been sabotaged by a Bertie Block from a rival theme park. Let Percy park help you and explain all about gravity, compression, stretching, friction and magnetic forces in the training centres at the Entrance, Newtown, Sci Fri, Pole 2 Pole....Read More
This is a great activity with a futuristic car on a track with a piston for pushing it. You can push hard or softly via the piston's plunger. See how far the car gets on the track before friction eventually stops it. Then change the surface from vinyl to either wood, carpet or ice to see what effect this has. Which surface will the car....Read More
See if you can launch your rocket with the correct thrust and angle to orbit the earth and dock with the space station. Five missions that get progressively harder. You will learn about the Gravitational Pull of the earth and the....Read More
A great activity with a truck on a track with a 'high road' at the start (gradient potential) and a barrier for releasing the truck to set it in motion. See how far the truck gets on the track before friction eventually stops it and note down the distance it travels in the supplied table. Then try increasing the gradient, adding a small....Read More
You need to sign up for a free account to paly this game. You are 'The Mighty Stronginsky', the Circus Strongman and the World's Strongest Man! You need to test your strength to amaze the crowd by using all kinds of forces such as compression, tension, torsion and shearing. Will the crowd love you or hate you as you pick the right force....Read More
You get to explore an apple falling off a tree (gravity!), the units of force (N = Newtons), a van travelling on the road with balanced and unbalanced forces, a pin to show how pressure is force divided by area and a spanner to show Moments which are force multiplied by the distance from a pivot. Read the notes on Gravity, mass, Weight,....Read More
In this tutorial you get to find out how electro-magnets work. Some basic electrical principles are explained too using a battery powered electric coil, a metal plate (acting as the core) and a compass. It is pointed out that electromagnets can be turned on and off easily using a switch that turns off the electric current to the coil.....Read More
Watch this interactive tutorial activity that explains all about resultant forces and terminal velocity. If the combined resultant forces applied to an object are zero then a stationary object stays still and a moving object keeps the same speed and direction. Otherwise, if the forces are not balanced and there is a resultant force then....Read More
This interactive tutorial activity starts teaching you about distance-time graphs and explains that the slope (gradient) of this represents the object's speed because the object covers a specific distance in a specific time which is the exact meaning of speed. If the object is stationary the line is horizontal (no distance change).....Read More
These revision notes explain how the total stopping distance of a car is calculated which is the thinking distance (distance travelled before the driver applies the brakes) and the braking distance (after the brakes are applied, the distance the car travels before coming to a stop). There are many factors affecting both thinking distance....Read More
You will learn from the Notes that when an object falls from a sufficient height, its acceleration increases initially but then starts to decrease until eventually it reaches terminal velocity which is its maximum velocity but there is zero acceleration any more since the air resistance has matched the gravitational force. Also the....Read More
Learn how elastic objects (e.g. a spring) can store potential energy by changing shape when squashed or stretched. Then learn all about Hooke's Law which states that the length of extension of an elastic object is proportional to the applied force. The spring constant 'k' can be determined by experiment by plotting force versus....Read More
Watch the interactive training and activity video explaining all about momentum. Momentum is the tendency of a moving object to keep moving in the same direction. It is calculated as : Momentum = mass x velocity. Try clicking the cannon and learn about Conservation of Momentum! The cannon ball is a small mass but travels forwards at a....Read More
Try out the interactive video and activity on Kinetic Energy and Gravitational potential Energy. Put the meat pie onto the shelf by doing some work and giving it some Gravitational Potential Energy. A good example is setting the pendulum into motion. Give it a push and see how the Gravitational Potential Energy is transferred into....Read More
A moment is the turning effect of a force around a fixed pivot. It is calculated by the equation : Moment = F x d (F is the force and d is the perpendicular distance from the pivot). Knowing these principles helps us to use moments to our advantage whilst mitigating the negative effects this can sometimes have. Levers or even using a....Read More
Pressure can be transmitted through liquids quite easily since liquids are almost incompressible. These principles are used in many situations such as car brakes or even opening and closing remote valves on chemical facilities. The equation is Force = Pressure x....Read More
These study notes explain how Centripetal force keeps objects moving in a circular motion rather than in a straight line. Classic examples of this are the earth orbiting the sun (where gravity provides the centripetal force) or a motorbike turning a corner (where tyre friction provides the centripetal force).....Read More
Force is a vector quantity (it has a given direction) whereas some things are scalar quantities (they have a value but no specific direction). Two parallel vector quantities (e.g. two forces) are just added to produce an equivalent single force. Scale diagrams can be used to calculate the value of vectors that are not....Read More
This section explains Newton's Third Law of Motion which states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. This is in relation to forces so if you push a book over a table top, friction acts in the opposite direction. Another example is a car crashing into a tree. Conservation of Momentum is explored for a rocket....Read More
This section explains all about parabolic trajectories from projectiles as they fall back to the ground due to the Earth's Gravitational field and air resistance acting in the opposite direction. The optimum launch angle for a javelin is explored by comparing initial velocity of the projectile and the potential ultimate range for various....Read More
Some interesting insights relating to gravity are explained on the official NASA website. These include information about how gravity makes planets orbit the sun. It also mentions Albert Einstein, Fundamental Physics and includes a two....Read More