Treasure Trackers


Theatre Huntsville’s Panoply 2015 Interactive presented by






Have you ever been to somebody’s house and saw the refrigerator covered in magnets with pictures or places they have visited? How do they stick there? Why are they on the refrigerator and not on the wall?

How does the pirate ship move along the pirate map you made at Panoply?  There is a magnet on one side of the map and a metal washer on the other side.  How do they stick together?

MAGNETS are made of iron, nickel or cobalt, and they have an invisible area around them called a magnetic field. This magnetic field is what attracts magnets to objects.

A MAGNETIC FIELD is made up of tiny building blocks called atoms. ATOMS are so small you can’t see them, but they are all around you! They are even inside you! Billions and billions of atoms link up with each other, or bond, to make up the tissues and organs inside your body. Even more combine to make things like a planet! Atoms are made up of even smaller parts called neutrons, protons, and electrons. The electrons spin around the outside of each atom. A magnetic field is created when all the electrons of all the magnet’s atoms spin the same way.

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MAGNETIC POLES are on opposite ends of the magnet. This is where the magnetic field is the strongest. Each magnet has a north pole and a south pole. If you cut a magnet in half, each half of the magnet will have a north and south pole.


Opposite poles of magnets are attracted to each other. This means the north pole of one magnet is attracted to the south pole of another magnet.  This attraction pulls magnets to each other. The same poles of magnets repel, or push away each other. This means that you can’t put two magnets together using both of their north poles, or both of their south poles. If you try this, you can feel each magnet pushing the other magnet away.

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Magnets are also attracted to metal, like iron, nickel and cobalt. This is why the magnet moves your pirate ship on the metal washer around your treasure map!


The center of the Earth, called the core, is made up of iron and nickel. This metal core gives the Earth its own magnetic field! This magnetic field is responsible for many things, and is the reason why compasses work. A compass needle’s north end is always attracted to the Earth’s North Pole; no matter which way you turn the compass, the needle always turns to point to the North Pole.  Since ancient times, and even today, compasses have been used by travelers all over the world to help them navigate to their destinations, all with the help of invisible magnetic fields!