Magnets attract any metals that are made of iron or metals with iron in them. Magnets attract ferrous objects, such as iron, nickel, steel and cobalt.
Magnets are made in different shapes, depending on their intended use. The magnetic field is concentrated around the poles of the magnet. The magnetic field around a the poles cannot be seen, but its presence is seen when holding a ferrous object next to it. The best way to see the magnetic field is by using tiny pieces of iron, called iron fillings. The filings concentrate mostly around the poles where the magnetic force is stronger. When the south pole of a magnet and the north pole of a magnet are close enough, they are attracted to one another. If the same ends are put together, such as north pole to north pole, the magnets repel one another. A compass contains a small free-floating magnet that sits horizontally on a pivot. The north pole of a compass magnet points in the north direction and the south pole of the compass magnet points in a south direction. A compass always points north and south, which is why it is used for the purposes of navigation and orientation.