Is It Magnetic, or Is It Not?

Contributor: Kaitlyn Aston. Lesson ID: 12477

If you have played with magnets, you probably noticed that they don't pick up, or stick to, everything. And not everything is magnetic. Did you know you can make certain items magnetic? It's simple!


Physical Science

learning style
personality style
Golden Retriever
Grade Level
Primary (K-2)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!


Question: What did the paper clip say to the magnet? You'll have to read on to find the answer!

In the previous Magnets lesson, you learned how magnetic materials react to one another, by either attracting or repelling each other.

If you overlooked or need to review the previous lessons in this Magnets series, you may find them in the Related Lessons in the right-hand sidebar.

As you have probably noticed, there are lots of materials in our world that are magnetic — and lots of materials that are not.

  • Can you name a few that you think are magnetic?
  • Can you name a few that you think are not magnetic?

Well, today is the day we figure out exactly WHAT is magnetic!

  • Are you ready to dive right into learning more about magnetics with Dr. Z?

Here we go!


In the words of Dr. Z, "That was crazy!" Some materials were magnetic — such as iron, steel, and nickel — while other materials — such as plastic, glass, and wood — were not.

  • Isn’t it interesting that even though aluminum is a metal, it is not magnetic?

This is because of the way the atoms are joined together in aluminum. Aluminum does not react to magnetic fields like most other metals. This may sound confusing at first, but try to think of this a different way: tape sticks to almost anything. Tape can stick especially well to smooth surfaces, but have you ever tried sticking tape to a very rough surface, a wet surface, or even a very dirty surface? The tape does not stick very well, if at all! This is because there is a different structure or "set up" to the surface. It is still a surface, but a rough, wet, or dirty surface is made differently than a smooth surface. This is the same for aluminum. It is a metal, but its atoms are joined together, or "set up," different from other metals.

  • Speaking of metals, do you remember what it is called when two metals do not attract each other?

Let's move on to the Got It? section to find out!

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