An effect with no contact

To push or pull something you usually need to touch it. Magnets seem almost magical because that’s not the case. You seem to be able to reach out across space to push or pull another magnet remotely, so being able to act at a distance.

You can control and feel this pushing or pulling by where you put the magnets. That suggests magnets are good for learning about action at a distance. Both gravity and electric forces are also action at a distance ( non-contact) forces, but its not so easy to change situations and feel the differences.

Magnets also push or pull some non-magnets, so long as these are made of magnetic materials. That’s not like gravity forces which are exerted on all materials, and can only pull. It is like electric forces, which are exerted on charged materials.

Magnetic , electric and gravity forces are similar in many ways: different in others. Magnets are a good introduction because you can easily make changes and notice the effects.

You can put the magnets further apart: the force is smaller.

You can also spin one magnet: the forces changes direction.

There is something going on in the space around a magnet that results in predictable effects.