Earth's Magnetism and Gravity

Most recent answer: 11/07/2017

Hi, I'm a 6th grade science teacher. I am teaching the unit on the solar system and one of my learning activities says that the Earth's magnetic field pulls everything to the center of the Earth and is the same as gravity.I've never heard this and it sounds very wrong to me. I know gravity as one of the fundamental forces in the universe and EM force as another, but different fundamental force. Can you clear this up so I can teach my students correctly?Thanks so much,Phoenix
- Phoenix (age 57)
Sandy, UT, US

Oy, you're 100% right  and that material is 100% wrong.

The Earth's gravity exerts a torque on magnets. Depending on where they are and how they're oriented, that can either repel them or attract them. They will tend to rotate to the orientation that gets pulled toward the stronger field, which tends to be lower, but it's not the same as gravity. The force does not generally point directly toward the middle of the Earth.

We've heard of a lot of problems with school material but this sounds like one of the worst.

It's so bad that I'm skipping our usual vetting step and posting this right away.

Mike W.

p.s. see also:

(published on 11/07/2017)

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