Electricity and Magnetism

Moody magnets

Enrichment Activity for 5-11 11-14

What you need

  • Two flat, rectangular fridge magnets (if you only have circular magnets, you’ll need to do some experimenting to feel this effect!)


  1. Place the magnets side by side on a table: one face up and one face down
  2. Put one magnet on top of the other so that the two magnetic sides are touching. Try to slide them apart along the longest side. How easily do they slide?
  3. Try sliding them apart again, but this time along the shortest side. How well do the magnets slide now?

Results and Explanation

Fridge magnets are made from thin strips of magnets with alternating north and south poles. As you try to slide the magnets across each other, the thin strips are being continually attracted and then repelled making the magnets judder.

can be analysed using Magnetic Field
IOP DOMAINS Physics CPD programme

The IOP is proud to present our new Forces CPD Domain

This is the first of a collection of videos for you to view ahead of our live support sessions for teachers and coaches of physics.

Find out more