The Iron Man - Forces & Magnetism

The Iron Man by Ted Hughes is a well known children's story. It follows the arrival of an Iron Man appears, who feeds on local farm equipment. When the farm hands discover their destroyed tractors and diggers, a trap is set consisting of a covered pit on which a red lorry is set as bait. Hogarth, a local boy, lures the Iron Man to the trap. The plan succeeds, and the Iron Man is buried alive. The next spring, the Iron Man digs himself free of the pit. To keep him out of the way, the boy Hogarth takes charge and brings the Iron Man to a metal scrap-heap. The Iron Man promises not to cause further trouble for the locals, as long as no one troubles him. Later on, an enormous space-being, resembling a dragon, moving from orbit to land on Earth. The creature crashes heavily on Australia and demands that humans provide him with food. The Iron Man hears of the fearsome creature and challenges him to a duel.  If the Iron Man can withstand the heat of burning petrol for longer than the space being can withstand the heat of the Sun, the creature must obey the Iron Man's commands forevermore; if the Iron Man melts or is afraid of melting before the space being undergoes or fears pain in the Sun, the creature has permission to devour the whole Earth.The alien creature admits defeat.

This book is a good setting through which children could:

  • investigate how things move on different surfaces
  • observe how magnets attract or repel each other and attract some materials and not others
  • compare and group together a variety of everyday materials on the basis of whether they are attracted to a magnet, and identify some magnetic materials

Key scientific vocabulary: force, magnetic force, magnet​, strength, bar magnet, ring magnet, button magnet, horseshoe magnet, attract, repel, poles, metal, iron, steel,

Other fiction books with a similar theme:

Clockwork  - Philip Pullman

Lighthouse Keepers Lunch  - Ronda & David Armitage

Mr Archimedes’ Bath – Pamela Allen

Egg Drop – Mini Grey

Mrs Armitage Queen of the Road – Quentin Blake