How to create a magnet with a wire and a nail

How to Make a Battery Magnet: Solenoid Science

How to Make a Magnet with a Battery Wire and Nail

What can go wrong? You can burn down the house or burn your fingers! Okay, the former is a bit of a stretch, but if you leave the electromagnet attached for too long (which can be as little as 1 minute) it will get very hot. or not. It all depends on your batteries. This is what you are going to figure out in your scientific analysis. You’ll need to apply the scientific method.

Below is a Teacher Tube video on the Scientific Method for elementary students. Click the link to watch the BrainPop video on the Scientific Method. You’ll also find a vocabulary builder and worksheets at BrainPop.

What is an Electromagnet?

Make an electromagnet with a battery, nail, and wire. When an electric current moves through any metal object making the object act like a magnet, you’ve got an electromagnet. Without an electric current moving through it, the object acts like a regular metal.

Make an Electromagnet:

  • D battery
  • electrical tape
  • long nail
  • metal wire
  • paper clips

Build your solenoid.

  • Do not leave the wire connected for more than 30 seconds at a time. It gets hot! You will want to use an oven mitt or gloves to protect your fingers. Also, don’t leave it unattended!!
  • Wrap the wire around the nail so that it is coiled at least five times, experiment with more or less coils and track your results.
  • Tape one end of the metal wire to the positive end of the battery with the electrical tape.
  • Connect the other end of the wire to the negative end of the battery with the electrical tape.
  • How many paper clips you can pick up with the solenoid?

If you can’t pick up any paperclips, wrap more coils around the battery, get a fresh battery, or a better brand of battery.

What happened? Was your hypothesis correct? Let us know in the comments.

The video on how to make an electromagnet is a different process, it uses a different size battery and different wire. You can experiment with different size batteries, wire types, and even metal items to pick up with it.

How to Make Simple Electromagnet. An Electromagnet is the kind of magnet, which uses electric current to create a magnetic field. It can attract and magnetize ferromagnetic materials like Iron, Nickel, and Cobalt. It is easy to make a simple electromagnet at your home from household materials. Things You Will Need Thin Plastic insulated wire … Continue reading “How to Make Simple Electromagnet”

Try It – An Electromagnet is the kind of magnet, which uses electric current to create a magnetic field. It can attract and magnetize ferromagnetic materials like Iron, Nickel, and Cobalt. It is easy to make a simple electromagnet at your home from household materials. Things You Will NeedThin Plastic insulated wire5 volt AA BatteryIron NailWrap 20 turns of insulated wire on an iron nail tightlyTrim about an inch of plastic coating from both ends of the wire. Connect one end of the wire with the positive terminal of the battery, and other with negative terminal. Use the electric wire tape if necessary. Get some paper clips and bring your electromagnet near them. You will see the paper clips will be attracted towards your electromagnet. Disconnect wires from the battery, if wire or battery gets hot. How it WorksWhen you connect the wires to the battery, an electric current flows in the wires. This electric current produces the magnetic field around the wire. The iron nail acts as a magnetic core. Magnetic cores are used to enhance the magnetic field.

Video advice: Activity 4.2.5.A – Making an Electromagnet

Electromagnets are a type of temporary magnet that is created when electrical current is passed through a coil of wire wrapped around a ferromagnetic object. The current creates a magnetic domain that can be turned on or off. In this lab activity, we look at how to make an electromagnet using an iron nail, a battery, and copper wire.

Making a nail electromagnet with bare copper wire?

When creating a simple electromagnet, all you need is a nail and some copper wire, and a battery. I did this using non-coated copper wire, and after thinking about it for a bit, I was confused as …

Video advice: Nail and Wire (Electromagnet)

\$\begingroup\$When creating a simple electromagnet, all you need is a nail and some copper wire, and a battery. I did this using non-coated copper wire, and after thinking about it for a bit, I was confused as to why it was working. Theoretically, the current moving through the coil around the nail should induce a strong magnetic field concentrated in the center of the coil (in the nail). However, if this wire is not coated, wouldn’t the current simply “jump” between coils rather than following the spiral pattern around? And since it is no longer moving in a coil path, wouldn’t it fail to create an electromagnet? Yet still, the electromagnet was able to pick up several paperclips with only about 20 coils around the wire.

Video advice: How to make an Electromagnet using Battery

Learn how to make a electromagnet using BATTERY and NAIL in just a minute. This is a simple science project.

How do you make a nail electromagnet?

0:001:52Electromagnet Demo: Nail – YouTubeYouTubeStart of suggested clipEnd of suggested clipAnd then attaching the two ends of the wire to a nine nine volt battery. So if we connect it up. YouMoreAnd then attaching the two ends of the wire to a nine nine volt battery. So if we connect it up. You can see that now we can pick up these paper clips. We can even pick up pick up a steel ball.

How do you magnetize a battery with a nail?

Attach each exposed end of the copper wire to opposite battery terminals to complete the electromagnet. Current flowing through the wire in a loop around the nail creates a magnetic field. The electromagnet becomes stronger with each additional coil twisting around the nail.

How can the wire be made into an electromagnet?

When an electric current flows in a wire, it creates a magnetic field around the wire. This effect can be used to make an electromagnet . A simple electromagnet comprises a length of wire turned into a coil and connected to a battery or power supply. wrapping the coil around a piece of iron (such as an iron nail)

When you make an electromagnet using a battery circuit and a steel nail?

If you make an electromagnet using a battery circuit and a steel nail, how can you increase its magnetic strength? Wrap more coils of wire around the nail.

How do you make an electromagnet with a nail and copper wire?

0:061:38Make an Electromagnet – Tinker Crate – YouTubeYouTube.

Making an electromagnet at home is very simple since you will only need a battery, a nail, wire, and electrical tape. Let’s see step by step guide to making an electromagnet at home.

A super-strong electromagnet

How to Make an Electromagnet at Home Step by Step

An electromagnet is a type of magnet that generates a temporary magnetic field by electric current and attracts magnetic objects.

The electromagnet is built with a coil and an iron core and is often found in motors and generators, speakers, or magnetic locks, among many other uses.

The Danish physicist and chemist, Hans Christian Oersted, was the one who coined the term electromagnetism in 1820 to refer to the ability of a wire containing electrical current to produce a magnetic field.

The difference between the electromagnet and an ordinary magnet (permanent magnet) is that the magnetic field that the electromagnet creates is temporary: it only works if there is a constant flow of electrons. In addition, it needs an electric current to work, while a permanent magnet is made of a magnetic material that can be magnetized easily and can create its own magnetic field.

What Do You Need to Make an Electromagnet?

Making an electromagnet at home is very simple. To make a super-strong electromagnet, you will need the following materials:

  • A static stack.
  • Thin-coated copper wire.
  • A large iron nail (approximately 3 inches in length)
  • Dry cell batteries.
  • Electrical tape (or insulating tape).
  • Iron filings, paper clips, or other small magnetic objects.

How to Make an Electromagnet: Step by Step

To make a super-strong electromagnet at home, follow these steps:

1. Wrap the wire around the nail leaving a few inches free from the start of the screw and a few more at the end as well. Be careful when winding so that the wire is as taut as possible and does not overlap.

2. Tape the two ends together so the wire doesn’t unravel from the screw.

3. Connect the wire to the ends of the pile. To do this, slightly remove the cover from the wire and connect one end to the positive terminal of the battery and the other to the negative terminal.

4. Cover each terminal of the battery with electrical tape to keep the wire in place.

Now that you have your electromagnet built, you can start testing it. First, bring the tip of the screw close to any clips or magnets you have on hand to see how they attract.

You can experiment with lower or higher voltage batteries and smaller or larger magnetic objects to observe the strength of the electromagnet.

Always act with care and responsibility and keep in mind that the wire will take a temperature. When it is too high to continue using it, disconnect it from the battery.

Once you teach kids about magnets and magnetic field, the next best thing to teach about Electromagnets.

In this post, let us explore how you can make an electromagnet in less than 5 minutes.

But before exploring electromagnet – kids need to understand the difference between Temporary and Permanent Magnets.

Temporary and Permanent Magnets

Do you know that magnets can be temporary?

A temporary magnet gets magnetic properties and behaves like a magnet when placed in a strong magnetic field. The magnetic properties disappear when you remove them from the magnetic field.

You can test this property by attaching a permanent magnet with a nail and picking up paper clips. Though a nail, by default, does not have any magnetic field, when it is placed in contact with a permanent magnet, the nail will attract paper clips.

You can remove the magnet from the nail and see all the paper clips dropping – It is because the temporary magnet (nail) stops being magnetic when the field disappears.

It is the basic principle behind electromagnet.

Electromagnets

Unlike the previous experiment, Electromagnets created by a magnetic field induced by passing electricity.

In this experiment, we will create an electromagnet by wrapping a copper wire around a metal piece such as an iron nail.

The copper coil is then attached to an electrical source such as a battery. When the electricity flows from the battery through the copper wire – the circuit produces a magnetic field around the coil – which magnetizes the nail.

The key advantage of using electromagnet is the ability to turn them off or on by closing and opening the electrical circuit.

This advantage makes the electromagnets very useful in various day-to-day appliances, such as loudspeakers, MRI machines, generators, heavy lifting equipment, and even simple motors.

Things We Need

Copper Wire (14 Gauge preferred)

Iron Nail / Any long metal piece

Wire Cutter / Stripper

Items to Test (both Non-Magnetic & Magnetic materials)

Step by Step Approach to Making an Electromagnet at Home

Cut a copper wire for about 1 -2 foot long. If the wire has insulation, use wire strippers to remove it to expose the copper conductor.

Leave about 3 to 4 inches of wire and then start wrapping the wire around the nail. The copper wire should be wrapped as a coil until the end of the nail. Make sure to leave out another 3 to 4 inches of wire at the end.

Attach the exposed ends to C or D type battery ends (one on each side). You can use electrical tape to secure the wires to the battery.

To test our electromagnet works, bring up the wire wrapper nail close to small metal articles such as paper clips. You should see that the paper clips are attracted to the nail.

Have your kids test the electromagnets with various objects (papers, plastic products, popcorn, coins, etc.) – you can also ask them to record their observation in the below worksheets.

Worksheet for testing and recording magnetic properties with different materials

Another Electromagnet worksheet to capture student’s understanding on concepts.

Explore Other Interesting Magnet Science Activities:

Science Behind Electromagnets

When electricity passes through the coil wrapped around the nail, the moving charges produce a magnetic field.

If the current flows through a straight wire, it produces a circular magnetic field around the wire. But when we wrap the wire as a coil (called Solenoid) – each wire produces a magnetic field – but these magnetic fields merged to produce a stronger magnetic field.

However, the coil by itself is very weak to pick up any materials using its magnetic field. So we need to add a ferromagnetic core (in our case – the nail). Ferromagnetic materials typically have tiny individual magnetic domains spread across all over the material. In a typical scenario – these small magnetic domains aligned randomly, so they cancel each other out.

But in the presence of an external magnetic field (such as the one produced by Solenoid) – these individual magnetic domains align with each other in line with the external magnetic field – making the entire magnetic field much stronger.

The coil attached to the positive end of the battery becomes the south pole, and the other end attached to the negative end become the north pole of the magnet. Thus, by changing the current flow – you can reverse the north and south of the electromagnet poles created.

Besides, electromagnets can be switched on and off by switching on and off the electricity passing through the Solenoid.

The magnet’s strength can also be controlled by the number of coils wrapped on the ferromagnetic core, the amount of electricity passing through the coil or even by the material chosen to form the core. You can extend this science experiment by altering one of these materials.

Just a word of caution: The wires can become very hot when connected with electricity. So always switch it off / disconnect from the battery source when not used.

Introduction: How to Make a Magnet Generator

How to create a magnet with a wire and a nail

This magnetic generator can power a light. You spin the nail, the magnets go around, and the light bulb lights up. Try it! Make sure you have all the materials before you start. Don’t substitute them! Try making this cool generator.

Step 1: What Do You Need?

  • Cardboard 8cm x 30.4cm
  • 4 – 1x2x5cm ceramic magnet
  • 1 – #30 Magnet wire 200ft
  • 1 – Miniature Lamp, 1.5V 25mA Rad
  • 1 – Large nail, 8cm long or more
  • Sandpaper to strip the wires

Step 2: Building Your Frame

Your cardboard needs to be 8 cm tall by 30.4 cm long.

Score the cardboard at 8 cm, 3.5 cm, 8 cm, 3.2 cm, 7.7 cm.

Then fold into a box and tape.

Step 3: Finishing Your Frame

Puncture a hole in the middle of the box, then stick the nail through the holes.

Make sure the nail goes all the way through the box.

Make sure the nail can spin freely.

Step 4: Wiring

Take out your nail.

Tape the end of the wire to the box.

Wrap the wire around the box about 250 times.

Make sure it fits comfortably without coming off.*

Use sandpaper to scrape off both ends of the wire.

If your wire breaks, use sandpaper to strip the ends of the wire where it snapped, and twist together.

*If you wrap the wire too tight, it will collapse the box.

Step 5: Magnets

Put the nail back in.

Hot glue two magnets (stacked up) to each side of the nail.

Do not tape the magnets. It disrupts the flow of electricity.

Step 6: Test It!

Twist the ends of the wire to the ends of the light.

If you spin your nail fast enough, the light should light up.

Step 7: Why It Works

It works because there is wire surrounding the magnets. When the magnets have wire around them, there is pressure. It is called voltage. The faster you spin the magnets, the more voltage you have. That is why the light lights up.

How to create a magnet with a wire and a nail

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6 Comments

How to create a magnet with a wire and a nail

Question 1 year ago on Introduction

How many volts does this make

How to create a magnet with a wire and a nail

Answer 1 year ago

To be completely honest with you, it depends on how strong the magnet is.

How to create a magnet with a wire and a nail

Hey there, Welcome to Instructables!

This project is a great idea, but it doesn’t look your video file is working. I’d love to see this in action so it can be let into the Make it Glow Contest.

Maybe consider uploading your video to a service like YouTube and embedding the video module into step 6 above to demonstrate the effect? Can’t wait to see this project in action.

Let me know if you need help with your video upload.

How to create a magnet with a wire and a nail

Reply 3 years ago

We have fixed the video, if you could review the video and get back to us, that would be great. Thanks!

Cordless rechargeable drill with battery and charger … Cordless tool batteries last for several years; and with proper care and storage, you can extend battery life

Making a magnet with a Hitachi cordless drill battery and copper wire is very easy. All you have to do is to wrap the wire around an iron nail and attach one end to each battery terminal. Once you have finished, you will have a functional electromagnet which can be used to pick up paper clips and other small objects. It will continue to work until the battery runs out.

Get an iron nail. In general, the longer and thicker the nail, the better the magnet. Six inch long iron nails work very well, but smaller nails will do the trick.

Get some copper wire. The best kind for this project is single strand copper wire with an enamel coating. Braided wire, or wire coated with rubber, will also work well.

Get a battery. A 9-volt will work well, but won’t last very long. A lantern battery is probably the best choice.

Leaving several inches hanging free, tape the copper wire to one end of the nail.

Wrap the wire around and around the wire until you reach the other end. The more turns of wire, the stronger your magnet will be. Therefore, try to wrap it pretty tightly.

Tape the wire at the other end. You can either tape it to the nail, or wrap the whole coil in tape.

Leaving several inches of wire free, cut the end free from the spool of wire. You should have enough extra wire to reach the terminals of your battery easily.

Strip both ends of the wire. You can cut the coating away with a knife, or use a wire stripper.

Touch one end of wire to each Hitachi power tool battery terminal. The electricity will begin to travel through the wire, and you will have a working magnet until you break the connection or your battery dies.

Be sure to use insulated copper wire. Uninsulated wire will not work for this project.

Try taping one end of the wire to the battery terminal. That way, all you will have to do is touch the other end to the other terminal to start the magnet working.

Experiment with different gauges of wire to see which produces the most powerful magnet. Thinner wire can be wrapped more times, but thicker wire resists the flow of electricity less, meaning that there is more flowing through to generate a magnetic field. You will have to balance the two factors to get the perfect thickness.

🤤😅🤣 Click to see full answer.

People also ask, what is the coating on magnet wire?

🤤😅🤣 Magnet wire coating is applying a coat of electrically insulating varnish or enamel to aluminum or copper wire used in electrical machinery. The wire is usually coated in large plants that both draw and insulate it and then sell it to electrical equipment manufacturers.

🤤😅🤣 Likewise, how do you make copper wire magnetic? Some of the copper wire needs to be exposed so that the battery can make a good electrical connection. Use a pair of wire strippers to remove a few centimeters of insulation from each end of the wire. Neatly wrap the wire around the nail. The more wire you wrap around the nail, the stronger your electromagnet will be.

🤤😅🤣 Similarly, you may ask, how does magnet wire work?

🤤😅🤣 Magnet wire is copper wire with thin enamel insulation, instead of the usual thicker plastic. Magnet wire is coated with an enamel insulation vs a plastic or rubber coating. This makes the insulation thinner and allows for a more compact winding and hence denser magnetic field in the coil.

🤤😅🤣 What type of wire is best for an electromagnet?

🤤😅🤣 What metals and gauge size make the best wire for a stronger electromagnet? The most efficient and cost effective metal is copper. While silver is a slightly better conductor, it’s over 5 times as expensive as copper.

What do you get when you mix a battery, a bit of copper wire and a nail? One of the most important forces in science. Try it yourself and let the force be with you!

Electromagnets are different than the permanent magnets used in the other Try This at Home activities. They’re not magnetized metal: they’re basically a wire conducting electric current, which in turn generates a magnetic field. Magnetism and electricity are very closely related phenomena.

Electromagnets have a wide range of uses, from the MRI machines used in hospitals to remote-control toy cars to many appliances in your home. They vary in strength from very weak but sensitive electromagnets used to detect other magnets or electric currents to the huge research instruments used here at the Magnet Lab.

What you’ll need

  • One D-cell battery
  • Insulated copper wire
  • Iron nail or iron rod
  • Paper clips
  • Compass

What you’ll do

  1. Before you begin to build your electromagnet, let’s check to see if the nails are magnets. Do they attract the paper clips?
  2. Connect the insulated wire to the battery. Make sure you complete the circuit by attaching the ends of the wire to opposite ends of battery. Place the compass under the wire. Is there any reaction?
  3. Disconnect one end of the wire. Wrap it around a nail 15 times before connecting it back to the battery. What do you see when you bring the compass near? Is this reaction different from what you saw when you placed the compass under the straight wire? Can you pick up paper clips with the wire? Can you pick up paper clips with the nail?
  4. Remove the nail from the wire without unwinding it. Will the wire pick up any paper clips? Will the nail alone pick up any paper clips?
  5. Place your compass under the wound wire. Do you get the same reaction as you did when you observed the compass in Step 4? How can you explain this?

What happened, and why!

In step 1, when you tested the nail to see if it was a magnet, you realized it was not because it did not attract the metal in the paper clip. However, iron nails can be magnetized. Your compass did not react to the wire because the wire by itself emitted no magnetic field.

In step 2, when you placed the compass under the wire, the needle deflected because the wire was now carrying an electric current generated by the battery, and current-carrying wires have a magnetic field around them.

In step 3, after you added the nail and coiled the wire around it, the compass picked up a much stronger magnetic field. That’s because a coiled wire creates a stronger magnetic field than a simple length of wire (the more coils, the stronger the field), and adding an iron nail in the middle boosts that field even more. The wire itself did not pick up the paper clip (its magnetic field was too weak), but the nail and coiled wire did.

In step 4, the nail picked up the paper clip this time because you had magnetized it by exposing it to the magnetic field of the current running in the wire. But without the nail inside it, the wound wire still didn’t produce enough of a magnetic field to pick up the paper clips.

In step 5, the compass measured a magnetic field in the wound wire (minus the nail) that was stronger than the field in the uncoiled wire, but weaker than the field in the coiled wire with the nail inside.

Did you know?

  • The magnetic field of a refrigerator magnet is more than 10 times stronger than the Earth’s magnetic field.
  • There are two units of measure for magnetic fields: gauss and tesla. One tesla equals 10,000 gauss. The Earth’s magnetic pull is about .5 gauss. A 1 tesla magnet is strong enough to pick up a car. Our strongest magnet at the MagLab is a whopping 45 tesla – the strongest sustained magnetic field on the planet.

Think Quick!

Which of the following household items does not use an electromagnet?

  • An automobile
  • A washing machine
  • A computer
  • A stereo system

For more information contact Carlos Villa at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (850) 644-7191.

A magnetic coil is made using a conductor, generally an insulated copper wire, and winding it around a core to produce an inductor, or a magnet. Basically, a wire that has electricity running through it produces a magnetic field. However, using a single wire would only generate a very faint field. Consisting of more than one turn, or a loop of wire, a magnetic coil focuses the magnetic field, with every coil of wire supplying a small amount of magnetic field. Adding up all those magnetic fields together creates a stronger vector field that properly functions as a magnet. A simple magnetic coil is very easy to make, provided you have the necessary items for it.

Most of the items above can be easily found in your home, except for the magnet wire and the battery, which you can readily get from any hardware store. For safety purposes, make sure that you have a proper location where you can build your magnetic coil, preferably in a workshop, garage, or basement.

Step 1 – Select a Magnetic Core

First, you need to have a magnet core. The iron nail, or any cylindrical piece of iron that you choose to use, will serve as the base from where the magnetic field will converge and eventually amplify. There are other kinds of coils that make use of air as its core by either wrapping the copper wire around a thin cylindrical paper or winding the wire into a coil by itself, having no core at all in the middle. However, this is not advisable to do if you really want your magnetic coil to function strongly.

Step 2 – Wrap the Core

How to create a magnet with a wire and a nail

Next, after selecting your core, wrap a strand of magnet wire around it. Remember that the more the coil is tightly spaced together, the better and stronger its magnetic force will be. Then set aside approximately 6 to 7 inches of wire dangling at the end of the core. Proceed to wrap all the way to the other side of the core.

Step 3 – Adhere the Coil to the Core

Using glue or tape, adhere the coil to the core. Leave another 6 to 7 inches of allowance, and trim the rest of the wire off from its roll. This means that you now have two extra strands of wire at the opposite ends of the core that you will need.

Step 4 – Bare the Wire

Now, strip off the enamel coat from the two end wires by burning an inch of the enamel using a lighter or a match. Let it cool off for a few seconds before wiping it off with a clean cloth. Make sure that both end wires are now bare and devoid of the enamel. You now have your very own magnetic coil.

Step 5 – Use the Magnetic Coil

How to create a magnet with a wire and a nail

To use your magnetic coil, connect the coil to an electric power source. Keep in mind though that the length of wire used to build the coil determines the resistance or impedance of the coil, and so will determine how much current will flow through it at a specific voltage. Using the lantern battery as a source, attach the two end wires beneath the coils protruding out of the battery. It is then ready for use, and you can test it by trying to pick up items like nails, paper clips, coins, and other small metal objects.

How to create a magnet with a wire and a nailAn Electromagnet is the kind of magnet, which uses electric current to create a magnetic field. It can attract and magnetize ferromagnetic materials like Iron, Nickel, and Cobalt. It is easy to make a simple electromagnet at your home from household materials.

Things You Will Need

  • Thin Plastic insulated wire
  • 5 volt AA Battery
  • Iron Nail

How to Make

  1. Wrap 20 turns of insulated wire on an iron nail tightly
  2. Trim about an inch of plastic coating from both ends of the wire.
  3. Connect one end of the wire with the positive terminal of the battery, and other with negative terminal. Use the electric wire tape if necessary.
  4. Get some paper clips and bring your electromagnet near them. You will see the paper clips will be attracted towards your electromagnet.

Disconnect wires from the battery, if wire or battery gets hot.

How it Works

When you connect the wires to the battery, an electric current flows in the wires. This electric current produces the magnetic field around the wire. The iron nail acts as a magnetic core. Magnetic cores are used to enhance the magnetic field.

Try It

  • Try to use two 1.5 volts AA batteries, and connect them in series. Then, connect the wires to this battery and observe the effects. Find out, does it affects the strength of the electromagnet
  • Use thicker wire instead of thin wire, and wrap around the iron nail. Then, observe the strength of an electromagnet
  • Use thick iron nail or bolt. Then, observe does it affect the strength of an electromagnet.

Try above methods, and note down your result. In the end, you will find which method is affecting the strength of electromagnet most.

Introduction: Make a Simple Electromagnet

How to create a magnet with a wire and a nail

How to create a magnet with a wire and a nail

Ever have a project that needed a certain kind of magnet, yet you didn’t have what you needed? Maybe you wanted to be able to switch the magnet on and then off, but lack the knowledge on how to create such a wonderful thing? Now (after following my steps) you’ll know how to make a basic one.

I needed to create an electromagnet for a project, so I decided to document the steps to show how to create your very own electromagnet.

Warning: The more current you place through the wire, the more heat it will give off and could start a fire if it becomes too hot. The wires will be hot after putting current through them. You can use thicker wires to allow more current. Recommended wire type is copper.

Materials:
1. Phone Line (or small insulated copper wires such as magnet wire)
2. Wire Stripper
3. Scissors
4. Pliers
5. D Batteries (power source)
6. Tape or glue
7. Ferrous metal object such as a pipe or nail
8. Small ferrous object to test with (small screw, nail, etc.)
9. Time on your hands

Attachments

Step 1: Simon Says: Strip.

1. Strip the phone lines of their outside sheathing. Don’t cut into the interior wires. As you move along, you’ll need to use the pliers to push the sheathing off. If you can, try to strip at least two to three feet (that’s all you’ll need to make this simple magnet).

2. Bare the ends of the wires (If you had to cut the wires, bind the bare ends together to create a long wire and place tape over the bare spots). Now take one end and place it up next to the metal object you wish to make into a magnet.

3. Either glue or tape it into position to prevent it from unraveling.

4. Now start wrapping your wire around the metal object as shown in the video below.

Attachments

Step 2: Finish It Up

1. After you’ve wrapped the wire around several times (Only wrap wire in one direction, otherwise your magnet will be weaker due to the fields fighting against each other) you can tape, glue, or tie a small knot at the end.

Note: Don’t wrap the entire metal pipe. The part that has wire will not attract ferrous objects. You need to leave metal showing to use as a magnet.

Now you’re all set to test out your new electromagnet.

2. Set up the battery so that it sits on one of the bare wires and hold the other end of the wire in your hand (Don’t touch the copper. It’ll become hot). Now touch the wire that you’re holding to the top of the battery and place your test object near the metal pipe. You may not feel the fields (depending on how much power you’re putting through the wires and how many times you wrapped the object), but if you place the test object near the pipe, it should be attracted to it.

Attachments

Step 3: Making It Stronger and Adding a Handle

See video below:
To make your electromagnet stronger, after you tie the knot (or tape/glue) the end into place, pull the wire alongside the wrapped wire to the starting point and start wrapping the wire around on top of the already wrapped wires. Make sure you go in one direction as you wrap. You can do this as many times as you want, but remember the farther away you get from the center (the metal pipe), the weaker the fields will become.

Note: The magnet’s fields won’t become weaker, just the coils’ fields.

To make a handle:
1. Pull both wires towards the back away from the metal magnet
2. Wrap the wires with electrical tape to keep them from sliding around.
3. Place a piece of foam pipe insulation around the wires. Trim as needed to make a snug fit.
4. Wrap the foam insulation with electrical tape to keep it in place and help prevent heat from leaking out.

Note: Either use a small current if using the electromagnet for long periods or use the magnet for short periods of time if using a good amount of current. Coils = Resistance which give off heat.

published
March 16, 2022
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Here’s a fun science experiment for kids! Make an electromagnet out of a few simple supplies. This is a great way to explore not only electrical circuits, but also the connection between electricity and magnetism.

In this experiment, kids will take an ordinary nail and make it magnetic. This is a magnet that you can turn on and off, however! When the circuit is closed, the nail is a magnet. When the circuit is open, it loses its magnetic power.

This post was originally published in March 2012 and updated in March 2022.

How to create a magnet with a wire and a nail

Supplies Needed to Make an Electromagnet:

  • A lantern battery, or two AA batteries. We’ll discuss the options below.
  • A long piece of insulated copper wire
  • Wires with alligator clips (ideal) or copper wire and electrical tape.
  • A large iron nail
  • Paper clips

This post contains Amazon affiliate links, which means that I earn from qualifying purchases.

How to create a magnet with a wire and a nail

To make our electromagnet, I stripped a small amount of the plastic insulation off of the copper wire on both ends and then wrapped the wire around the nail. Then I needed to make a circuit with the ends of the wire attached to the terminals of the battery. Since we have wires with built-in alligator clips from our electricity set, we used those. The alligator clips make it so easy to connect and disconnect the wires.

Before connecting all the wires, have kids try picking up paper clips with just the nail wrapped in wire. The nail will not pick up any clips!

How to create a magnet with a wire and a nail

Then connect the circuit. You need a wire running from one battery terminal to the end of the wire around the nail. Then you need another wire running from the opposite end of the nail’s wire to the other battery terminal. All connections must be secure.

Once your circuit is complete, you have an electromagnet! So awesome!

How to create a magnet with a wire and a nail

Your electromagnet will pick up paper clips, etc. Test its strength by making a chain of paper clips! (Although if you use large paper clips, it will probably only pick up one.)

Be aware that the ends of the wires will get hot! In scientific terms, this is resistance. All electrical conductors oppose the flow of electricity to some degree, and some of the electricity is lost as heat.

The lantern battery works REALLY well for this because it stands up by itself and because it has wires to attach the alligator clips to. However, it’s easy to make this project safer (especially important with young kids) by using two AA batteries. Create a battery pack like this to combine the voltage of the two AA batteries.

How to create a magnet with a wire and a nail

Make your battery pack by taping a paper clip to the ends of the batteries. Make sure that the batteries are facing in opposite directions! Then tape the batteries together.

You can use the battery pack by taping wires to the other ends of the batteries. One wire should touch each battery.

The electromagnet will work well with this setup! A little more fiddly, but safer, and the wires will not get hot.

How to create a magnet with a wire and a nail

The Science Behind an Electromagnet

How does an electromagnet work? Electrons in motion create a magnetic field. Materials are magnetic when their electrons are all spinning in the same direction. Natural or permanent magnets have their charges lined up in the same direction, while non-magnetic materials do not. However, we can make a metal such as iron magnetic by exposing it to an electrical charge. The electrons flowing through the coils of wire create a magnetic field, and so the nail behaves like a magnet! Remove the charge by disconnecting the circuit, and the nail no longer retains its magnetic properties.

Science is so cool!

How to create a magnet with a wire and a nail

4 Comments

Priya Sep 3, 2012

Cool electrical set. We did the same experiment this week and it worked good.

Ticia Sep 6, 2012

This is fun, you’re the second one who linked up an electro magnet this week (Priya who commented up above did as well).

Great explanation of the science.

Thanks for linking up to Science Sunday!

Jannat Jabed Oct 20, 2018

This is the most rubbish website I have ever looked at before.It is not easy to understand and it has lots of grammatical errors.Only a very brainless person will not spot the errors.Thank you for nothing , you imbeciles.No wonder there are only two comments and viewers!

Riya Oct 29, 2018

FYI, it worked for me fine, and i’m a fifth grader

Riya Oct 29, 2018

That was very rude Ms. Jannat Jadeb.

David Henry Mar 6, 2019

I teach an all boys gifted program here in Toronto, Canada. Quite frankly, when someone can offer ideas on how to do a science-based hands-on activity, even if it is a picture of the final product, my students can seize the idea and run with it. They are very inventive. I am taking a moment of your time to simply say “thank you”.

Walter Mar 22, 2022

I really like the science demonstrations you offered this week. I do an annual men’s fall retreat and the magnetic slime and the electromagnet would really great illustrations for various aspects of the Christian life.
Thank you

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How to create a magnet with a wire and a nail

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Introduction: How to Make an Electromagnet

How to create a magnet with a wire and a nail

How to create a magnet with a wire and a nail

How to create a magnet with a wire and a nail

An electromagnet is an electrical magnet and in this tutorial, i will show how you can make an electromagnet

at home, or for a science project very easy no effort with common stuff in a reusable way and with things that are

already made just waiting to be discovered.

An electromagnet is a type of magnet in which the magnetic field is produced by an electric current. The magnetic field disappears when the current is turned off. Electromagnets usually consist of insulated wire wound into a coil. A current through the wire creates a magnetic field which is concentrated in the hole in the center of the coil.

Step 1: Electromagnet Experiment

The wire turns are often wound around a magnetic core made from a ferromagnetic or ferrimagnetic material such as iron; the magnetic core concentrates the magnetic flux and makes a more powerful magnet.
The main advantage of an electromagnet over a permanent magnet is that the magnetic field can be quickly changed by controlling the amount of electric current in the winding. However, unlike a permanent magnet that needs no power, an electromagnet requires a continuous supply of current to maintain the magnetic field.

A simple electromagnet consisting of a coil of insulated wire wrapped around an iron core. A core of ferromagnetic material like iron serves to increase the magnetic field created.

Step 2: Homemade Electromagnet

For this project, we will need an electrical pump.

A pump is a device that moves fluids (liquids or gases), or sometimes slurries, by mechanical action. Pumps can be classified into three major groups according to the method they use to move the fluid: direct lift, displacement, and gravity pumps.
Pumps operate by some mechanism (typically reciprocating or rotary) and consume energy to perform mechanical work by moving the fluid.

The pump used in this project is a washing machine drain pump

Step 3: Discover the Electromagnet

First, you have to remove the black plastic that normally covers or holds in the round magnet

that spins inside generating the rotation movement for eliminating the water from your washing machine.

After removing the plastic very easy just a screwdriver needed you reveal some u shape of metal

covered in copper wire and two leads coming out.

Step 4: Ta Daaaa the Electro Magnet

Danish scientist Hans Christian Ørsted discovered in 1820 that electric currents create magnetic fields. British scientist William Sturgeon invented the electromagnet in 1824. His first electromagnet was a horseshoe-shaped piece of iron that was wrapped with about 18 turns of bare copper wire (insulated wire didn’t exist yet). The iron was varnished
to insulate it from the windings. When a current was passed through the coil, the iron became magnetized and attracted other pieces of iron; when the current was stopped, it lost magnetization.

Sturgeon displayed its power by showing that although it only weighed
seven ounces (roughly 200 grams), it could lift nine pounds (roughly 4 kilos) when the current of a single-cell battery was applied.

Step 5: Zero Effort Electromagnet

And now a small experiment take another washing machine pump put it on top of the homemade

electromagnet connect the wires, it doesn’t matter as long the wires from the washing machine pump are

connected to the wires of the homemade electromagnet.And now just turn the small wheel(nob) of the

washing machine pump. Amazing.

Step 6: Science Experiment

You will see that the two pieces stay magnetically connected for a long time.

Leedskalnin became interested in the general theory of magnetism. His four pamphlets addressed the interaction of electricity, magnetism and the body; Leedskalnin also included a number of simple experiments to validate his theories.
Contradicting the standard model of electromagnetism, his thesis is based upon the theory that the metal itself is not the magnet and that the real magnets are circulating in the metal. These individual north and south pole magnets are particles smaller than atoms or photons and each particle in the substance was an individual magnet by itself

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How to create a magnet with a wire and a nail

Electricity is carried by current, or the flow of electrons. One useful characteristic of current is that it creates its own magnetic field. This is useful in many types of motors and appliances. Conduct this simple electromagnetic induction experiment to witness this phenomenon for yourself!

Objective

Observe how current can create a magnetic field.

What will happen when the battery is connected and the switch is turned on? Will the battery voltage make a difference in the magnetic field?

Materials

  • Thin copper wire
  • Long metal nail
  • 12-V lantern battery
  • 9-V battery
  • Wire cutters
  • Toggle switch
  • Electrical tape
  • Paper clips

Procedure

  1. Cut a long length of wire and attached one end to the positive output of the toggle switch.
  2. Twist the wire at least 50 times around the nail to create a solenoid.
  3. Once the wire has covered the nail, tape the wire to the negative terminal of the 12V battery.
  4. Cut a short piece of wire to connect the positive terminal of the battery to the negative terminal of the toggle switch.

How to create a magnet with a wire and a nail

  1. Turn on the switch.
  2. Bring paper clips close to the nail. What happens? How many paper clips can you pick up?
  3. Repeat the experiment with the 9V battery.
  4. Repeat the experiment with the 9V and 12V batteries arranged in series (if you don’t know how to arrange batteries in series, check out this project that explains how).

Results

The current running through the circuit will cause the nail to be magnetic and attract paper clips. The 12V battery will create a stronger magnet than the 9V battery. The series circuit will create a stronger magnet than the individual batteries did.

Electric currents always produce their own magnetic fields. This phenomenon is represented by the right-hand-rule:

If you make the “Thumbs-Up” sign with your hand like this:

The current will flow in the direction the thumb is pointing, and the magnetic field direction will be described by the direction of the fingers. This means when you change the direction of the current, you also change the direction of the magnetic field. Current flows (which means electrons flow) from the negative end of a battery through the wire to the positive end of the battery, which can help you determine what the direction of the magnetic field will be.

When the toggle switch is turned on, the current will flow from the negative terminal of the battery around the circuit to the positive terminal. When the current passes through the nail it induces, or creates, a magnetic field. The 12V battery produces a larger voltage; therefore, produces a higher current for a circuit of the same resistance. Larger currents will induce larger (and stronger!) magnetic fields, so the nail will attract more paperclips when using a larger voltage.

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Education.com provides the Science Fair Project Ideas for informational purposes only. Education.com does not make any guarantee or representation regarding the Science Fair Project Ideas and is not responsible or liable for any loss or damage, directly or indirectly, caused by your use of such information. By accessing the Science Fair Project Ideas, you waive and renounce any claims against Education.com that arise thereof. In addition, your access to Education.com’s website and Science Fair Project Ideas is covered by Education.com’s Privacy Policy and site Terms of Use, which include limitations on Education.com’s liability.

Warning is hereby given that not all Project Ideas are appropriate for all individuals or in all circumstances. Implementation of any Science Project Idea should be undertaken only in appropriate settings and with appropriate parental or other supervision. Reading and following the safety precautions of all materials used in a project is the sole responsibility of each individual. For further information, consult your state’s handbook of Science Safety.

When creating a simple electromagnet, all you need is a nail and some copper wire, and a battery. I did this using non-coated copper wire, and after thinking about it for a bit, I was confused as to why it was working. Theoretically, the current moving through the coil around the nail should induce a strong magnetic field concentrated in the center of the coil (in the nail). However, if this wire is not coated, wouldn’t the current simply “jump” between coils rather than following the spiral pattern around? And since it is no longer moving in a coil path, wouldn’t it fail to create an electromagnet? Yet still, the electromagnet was able to pick up several paperclips with only about 20 coils around the wire.

1 Answer 1

Your bare copper wire probably has some tarnish (a.k.a some oxidation) and oil on it that may allow some of the coil turns to act like an inductor instead of being a total short.

You are on the right track though of realizing that you would not normally make an electromagnet coil out of bare copper wire. Normally enamel coated wire is used for coils because it insulates the turns but is still thin. The thin coating allows the wire turns to be packed more tightly on the coil resulting in more total turns in a given space. If you even tried to make a coil with wire insulated with thick plastic, PVC or Teflon insulation you would note the difference in the performance of the electromagnet right away.

Introduction: Electromagnet

Curious how to make your own Electromagnet? Watch our Wonder Zone video above, or follow these simple steps:

To do this experiment at home, you will need:

1. A large iron nail, (roughly three inches long)

2. 3 feet of thin coated copper wire

3. A fresh D cell battery

4. Some paper clips or other small metal objects

5. Electrical tape.

Step 1: Wrapping the Nail

1. Wrap the wire completely around the nail, but try not to overlap it on itself. Leave it so you have at least 6 – 7 inches or more of wire on both ends. Make sure the coil is as tight as possible, the tighter the wire wrapping, the stronger the magnet is.

Step 2: Attach the Wire to the Battery

2. All magnets have a pole, either a positive or negative. Opposite poles are attracted to each other. Remove some of the plastic coating (if coated), and attach one of the wire ends to the negative side of the battery and one of the wire ends to the positive side with electrical tape. Make sure the wire is securely attached to the battery.

Step 3: Caution! Battery Can Get Hot!

3. IMPORTANT: It is best to tape the wires to the battery as they will get hot quickly.

Step 4: Test It!

4. Using the nail you now have an electromagnet! Try and pick up your paper clips and see how strong it is. Electromagnets are only magnetic when power is flowing. The electricity arranges the molecules of the nail in such a way that they can attract certain metals. This is called POLARIZATION. Now that you have an electromagnet, can you test to see what types of items you can make stick?

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When you’re teaching your kids about science, nothing makes it come alive more than getting them to actually do it themselves.

Designing experiments and projects they can do at home makes everything they’re learning far more memorable and will make them enthusiastic to learn even more.

Building an electromagnet might sound far too difficult to do at home. Perhaps you’d never even thought it was possible before, or that it would be too dangerous. But it is, and it’s not actually difficult or dangerous at all! Read on to find out how to light up your kid’s world with a homemade electromagnet.

The Science Behind Electromagnets

The first thing to understand is that electricity and magnetism are not separate forces. They’re actually two parts of the same thing: electromagnetism. They both result from the movement of electrons. An electromagnet is just a magnet that is created by an electric current, meaning that it can be turned on and off at will.

The electromagnet we’re going to make is a wire attached to a small battery and wrapped around a nail. The electrical current flowing through the wire creates a magnetic field, which is made stronger by the iron nail.

Larger electromagnets are widely used in all kinds of machines and processes, from electricity generators to MRI machines, to magnetic separation devices.

Building An Electromagnet

To build your own electromagnet, you will need:

  • A piece of thin, copper-coated wire
  • Some sandpaper
  • A nail
  • Some paperclips
  • Some tape
  • A size D battery

The first step is to use the sandpaper to remove the coating at each end of the copper wire. After that’s done, wrap the wire around the nail as tightly as you can, leaving some free at the ends. Then attach these ends to the battery with the tape.

Safety Warning: Note that at this stage, electricity will be running through the wire and the nail. The electricity from a size D battery isn’t enough to hurt a person, but it will make the wire and nail hot to the touch.

When you want to stop using the electromagnet, it would be safest to use an object like a pencil to remove the wire from the battery or wait until it’s cooled down first.

Using The Electromagnet

You should now have a fully functioning electromagnet! Try to use it to pick up the paperclips. How many can you pick up? You can also try changing various things about the way the electromagnet is constructed to see how it affects its power.

You could try changing how tightly the wire is wrapped around the nail, the number of wires used, the size of the nail, the strength of the battery, and lots more! Get your kid to make notes of the differences and rank the different setups.

Then you can get them to see if they can work out why some work better than others. You can also switch off the power to show that the wire can no longer pick up any paperclips. This is a good moment to reinforce that it gets its power from electricity and that this is what makes it different from a regular magnet.

Another thing you can do is change the polarity of the magnet. This is easy – just remove the ends of the wire from the battery and reattach them to the opposite ends of the battery.

Get your kid to try picking up the paperclips with the magnet again, and they should notice that one end of the magnet now repels them when it attracted them before. Ask them if they know why. This is a great opportunity to teach them about polarity. If you have a regular magnet, you can compare it to the electromagnet.

Final Thoughts

It’s great fun to do projects and experiments with your kids to help them learn, and now you’ve seen that building an electromagnet is nothing difficult or dangerous. With any luck, this will fire their imaginations and enthusiasm to keep learning about the sciences behind the world around them.

You can magnetize a nail four ways.

No1. Get the nail and wrap some Insulated copper wire around it. You can use some other wires but it might not work as well. Make sure the wire isn’t too thick. Wrap the wire 50+ times. Connect the two ends of the wire to a battery. Don’t connect it to a strong power source as it will get very hot very quickly. Now the iron rod now has become a weak permanent magnet. The more current you add to it the more stronger it will be and the longer you expose the nail to the electricity on the stronger it will be.. Also, don’t drop it as it will lose it’s magnetic properties.

No2. Get a magnet. The stronger the better. Rub the magnet up nail then when you get to the end take the magnet off the metal and take it back to the start making sure the magnet doesn’t touch the metal. I don’t really like this method as it takes a long time to get the metal to pick up anything decent.

No3. Get a magnet and let it stick to one end of the nail. The nail will be weak but enough to make the needle on a compass move.

(Don’t ruin a compass. Mine point south-west and it shouldn’t do that. )

No4.If the nail is made up of iron, Simply Rub the nail with a permanent magnet

If the nail is made up of Steel,

take some insulated wire-the kind we use at home and wrap it around the nail like a coil.Connect the ends of the wire to a say 1.5 volt pencil battery leave it like that for some time.The nail will eventually become a permanent magnet

Here’s the explanation

1.When the nail is rubbed with the magnet the electrons in it arrange themselves in a particular direction imaparting the nail magnetic properties

Last Updated: 31st December, 2021

  • Large iron nail (approximately 3 inches in length)
  • Thin coated copper wire.
  • Dry cell batteries.
  • Electric tape.
  • Iron fillings, paper clips and other magnetic items.

Also know, what do you need to make an electromagnet?

Some of the copper wire needs to be exposed so that the battery can make a good electrical connection. Use a pair of wire strippers to remove a few centimeters of insulation from each end of the wire. Neatly wrap the wire around the nail. The more wire you wrap around the nail, the stronger your electromagnet will be.

Also, which substances are used for making electromagnet? electromagnet: A magnet made of an insulated wire coiled around an iron core (or any magnetic material such as iron, steel, nickel, cobalt) with electric current flowing through it to produce magnetism. The electric current magnetizes the core material.

In this manner, what is the aim of making an electromagnet?

To concentrate the magnetic field, in an electromagnet the wire is wound into a coil with many turns of wire lying side by side. The magnetic field of all the turns of wire passes through the center of the coil, creating a strong magnetic field there.

Can you make a magnet?

Magnets are made by exposing ferromagnetic metals like iron and nickel to magnetic fields. When these metals are heated to a certain temperature, they become permanently magnetized. Learn how to make a paperclip magnet, an electromagnet, and a magnet you can use as a compass.

Details
Activity Length
45 mins.
Topics
Electricity
Forces and Motion
Activity Type
Exploration
Language
English

In this activity, students learn about the relationship between electricity and magnetism by creating and experimenting with their very own electromagnet.

After making the magnet, they can explore how it works by making modifications to the number of batteries, the length of wire and number of loops, and the type of core used.

Electricity and magnetism are linked phenomena.

Moving electrons always create a magnetic field. Electrons moving along a wire make a magnetic field that goes in circles around the wire. When you bend the wire into a coil, the magnetic fields around each loop of the coil add up to make a long , thin magnet with north at one end and south at the other. The more loops the coil has, the stronger the magnetic field, while the current is flowing.

A magnet made from just a coil of wire isn’t very strong. But when you coil the wire around an iron nail, the magnetic domains inside the nail line up and make a strong, temporary magnet. If you disconnect the wire, the magnetic field disappears and the nail is no longer a magnet.

If you leave the wire connected long enough, the nail’s magnetic domains will realign enough to make it a permanent magnet. But be careful! The current flowing through the wire makes the wire hot and drains the battery quickly.

  • How to create a magnet with a wire and a nail
  • How to create a magnet with a wire and a nail
  • How to create a magnet with a wire and a nail
  • How to create a magnet with a wire and a nail
  • How to create a magnet with a wire and a nail
  • How to create a magnet with a wire and a nail

Objectives

Explain the relationship between electricity and magnetism.

Materials

Per Demo or Student:
large iron nail (about 8 cm)
1 metre of insulated copper wire
1 fresh D size battery
paper clips or other small magnetic objects
tape

Key Questions

  • Is the nail itself a magnet? Does it matter if it is connected to the battery?
  • What happens when a wire is coiled around the nail and connected to a battery?
  • What happens when you disconnect the wire?
  • Why do the wires become hot when they’re connected to the battery?

What To Do

  1. Start about 20 cm from one end of your piece of wire. Wrap it neatly around and around the nail, working your way along the nail. Try not to overlap the coils. Leave another 20 cm of wire free at the end.
  2. Remove about 2 cm of the insulation (plastic coating) from each end of the wire. Attach one wire end to one end of a battery and the other wire end to the other end of the battery. Use tape to connect the wires to the battery, but be careful! The wires can get quite hot!
  3. Put the point of the nail near a few paper clips and see if it can pick them up!
    How to create a magnet with a wire and a nail

Caution: The wires will get very hot, so never leave the magnet on for more than 30 seconds at a time. Leaving the magnet on for too long could melt the insulation, causing a burn or fire hazard. Always conduct this activity with adult supervision. Give the magnet plenty of time to cool down between tests.

Extensions

  • Does changing the number of times you wrap the wire around the nail affect the strength of your electromagnet so that it picks up more paperclips?
  • Can you think of 3 ways to make the electromagnet stronger? (Try altering the number of batteries, the amount of wire, and the type of core you use.)

About the sticker

Artist: Jeff Kulak

Jeff is a senior graphic designer at Science World. His illustration work has been published in the Walrus, The National Post, Reader’s Digest and Chickadee Magazine. He loves to make music, ride bikes, and spend time in the forest.

About the sticker

Artist: Jeff Kulak

Jeff is a senior graphic designer at Science World. His illustration work has been published in the Walrus, The National Post, Reader’s Digest and Chickadee Magazine. He loves to make music, ride bikes, and spend time in the forest.

About the sticker

Artist: Jeff Kulak

Jeff is a senior graphic designer at Science World. His illustration work has been published in the Walrus, The National Post, Reader’s Digest and Chickadee Magazine. He loves to make music, ride bikes, and spend time in the forest.

About the sticker

Artist: Michelle Yong

Michelle is a designer with a focus on creating joyful digital experiences! She enjoys exploring the potential forms that an idea can express itself in and helping then take shape.

About the sticker

Artist: Michelle Yong

Michelle is a designer with a focus on creating joyful digital experiences! She enjoys exploring the potential forms that an idea can express itself in and helping then take shape.

About the sticker

Artist: Michelle Yong

Michelle is a designer with a focus on creating joyful digital experiences! She enjoys exploring the potential forms that an idea can express itself in and helping then take shape.

About the sticker

From Canada, Ty was born in Vancouver, British Columbia in 1993. From his chaotic workspace he draws in several different illustrative styles with thick outlines, bold colours and quirky-child like drawings. Ty distils the world around him into its basic geometry, prompting us to look at the mundane in a different way.

About the sticker

From Canada, Ty was born in Vancouver, British Columbia in 1993. From his chaotic workspace he draws in several different illustrative styles with thick outlines, bold colours and quirky-child like drawings. Ty distils the world around him into its basic geometry, prompting us to look at the mundane in a different way.

About the sticker

From Canada, Ty was born in Vancouver, British Columbia in 1993. From his chaotic workspace he draws in several different illustrative styles with thick outlines, bold colours and quirky-child like drawings. Ty distils the world around him into its basic geometry, prompting us to look at the mundane in a different way.

How to create a magnet with a wire and a nail

Grade Level: 4th to 8th; Type: Physics

Objective:

Using a nine-volt battery to create an electrical field around a nail, create your own DIY electromagnet.

Research Question:

What is electromagnetism? How does it work?

Materials:

  1. Two feet of fine-gauge electrical wire
  2. Wire clipper
  3. Iron nail, about 3” long
  4. 9-volt battery
  5. Paper or ceramic plate
  6. Paper clips made of ferrous metal (use the small magnet to check if it’s the right kind; it should be attracted to the magnet)
  7. Iron filings
  8. Two small magnets
  9. Pencil and paper (or, optional, a camera)

Experimental Procedure:

  1. Use the wire cutter to strip the insulation from about one inch of each end of the wire. Be careful, this tool can snip you, too, and the ends of the wire are probably sharp!
  2. Wrap the wire in a snug coil around the shaft of the nail, leaving a few inches of wire dangling at each end.
  3. Wrap one of the dangling wire-ends around the larger connector at the top of the battery.
  4. Touch the other end of the wire to the other connector. Be careful! The wire might get hot now. You may want to get a partner or an adult to help you with this part.
  5. Now touch one end of the nail to a paper clip and see if you can move the paper clip with the nail. Has it become magnetic? Will it lift the paper clip? Will it lift two? Three? The stronger the magnetic field is, the more paper clips it will hold.
  6. Now, while the paper clips are sticking to the nail, move the loose end of the wire to break the connection between it and the battery. Notice how the paper clips fall. The nail hasn’t become magnetic on its own; the wire coiled around it is creating a magnetic field when the circuit is closed and electrical current runs through it.
  7. Want to see the magnetic field? Sprinkle a good layer of iron filings on the plate—carefully, some of them might be sharp, and you definitely don’t want to get them in your eyes!—carefully place the nail in the middle of the filings, and reconnect the wire to the battery. You should see the filings move around the nail, showing you the shape and size of the magnetic field you’re creating. Draw a picture of this (or, optionally, take a photo).
  8. Now take the two small magnets and place them end to end, pushing the ends together. Then flip over just one of the magnets and try it again. You should find that in one position, the ends of the magnets will stick together, and in the other position, they push each other apart. This is because magnetic fields are polar, meaning they go in one direction along a line or pole.
  9. Now dangle the nail from the battery and close the circuit by holding the loose wire against the second connection. See if you can make the nail move without touching it using one of the magnets. Can you flip the magnet over and make the nail move in the other direction?

Terms/Concepts: electrical field, magnetism, electromagnetism, current, circuit

Disclaimer and Safety Precautions

Education.com provides the Science Fair Project Ideas for informational purposes only. Education.com does not make any guarantee or representation regarding the Science Fair Project Ideas and is not responsible or liable for any loss or damage, directly or indirectly, caused by your use of such information. By accessing the Science Fair Project Ideas, you waive and renounce any claims against Education.com that arise thereof. In addition, your access to Education.com’s website and Science Fair Project Ideas is covered by Education.com’s Privacy Policy and site Terms of Use, which include limitations on Education.com’s liability.

Warning is hereby given that not all Project Ideas are appropriate for all individuals or in all circumstances. Implementation of any Science Project Idea should be undertaken only in appropriate settings and with appropriate parental or other supervision. Reading and following the safety precautions of all materials used in a project is the sole responsibility of each individual. For further information, consult your state’s handbook of Science Safety.

In ferromagnetic materials, smaller groups of atoms band together into areas called domains, in which all the electrons have the same magnetic orientation. That’s why you can magnetize them. See how it works in this tutorial.

Electrons are teeny tiny magnets. They have a north and a south pole and spin around an axis. This spinning results in a very tiny but extremely significant magnetic field. Every electron has one of two possible orientations for its axis.

In most materials, the magnetic orientation of one electron cancels out the orientation of another. Iron and other ferromagnetic substances, though, are different (ferrum means iron in Latin). Their atomic makeupl leads to smaller groups of atoms banding together into areas called domains, in which all the electrons have the same magnetic orientation. Below is an interactive animation that shows you how these domains respond to an outside magnetic field.

In the Ferromagnetic Material pictured above, the domains are randomly aligned (the illustration shows how this phenomenon works, not the actual size or shape of domains). Normally invisible Magnetic Field Lines, depicted in red, are seen emanating from the poles of the Bar Magnet. Use the Magnet Position slider to move the magnet closer to the ferromagnetic material so that it interacts with the field lines. As you repeat the process, you’ll notice the domains gradually aligning – with the field of the bar magnet and with each other.

By the time you’re done, the ferromagnetic material has become a permanent magnet itself, a dipole having oppositional north-south poles. A permanent magnet is nothing more than a ferromagnetic object in which all the domains are aligned in the same direction.

There are only four elements in the world that are ferromagnetic at room temperature and can become permanently magnetized: iron, nickel, cobalt and gadolinium. (A fifth element, dysprosium, becomes ferromagnetic at low temperatures.)

Ferromagnets stay magnetized after being subjected to an external magnetic field, sometimes for millions of years. This tendency to retain magnetism is called hysteresis.

Practical Activity for 14-16

Class practical

An introductory experiment showing that electromagnets can conveniently be switched on and off.

Apparatus and Materials

For each student group

    Copper wire, PVC-covered, 150 cm with bare ends

  • Chemical balance OPTIONAL
  • Ammeter, 0-1 A OPTIONAL
  • Health & Safety and Technical Notes

    How to create a magnet with a wire and a nail

    The nail should be made of iron which is magnetically soft ( cut nails are suitable).

    The nail may also have gained some magnetism while it has been lying in a cupboard in the Earth’s magnetic field. This is easily remedied by heating the nail to cherry red heat and allowing it to cool in the East-West direction. Alternatively use a demagnetising coil, in which an alternating potential difference is connected to a solenoid, and the nail is then slowly withdrawn from the coil to a distance from it.

    1. Wind a few dozen turns of insulated wire around an iron nail. (Leave enough wire free at either end to make connections to the power supply.)
    2. Connect the ends of the wire to the low-voltage DC power supply, so that a large current flows round the coil.
    3. To find out if the nail is a magnet, test it with iron filings. What happens if you turn the current off?
    4. Offer your electromagnet some larger bits of iron, such as tintacks or paper clips.
    5. What happens each time you turn the current off?
    • Soft iron is a good temporary magnet. A steel nail will retain a lot of its magnetism once the current in the coil is switched off.
    • Iron filings are chips of soft iron which become temporary magnets when in a magnetic field, and so they line up north to south indicating the direction of the magnetic field.
    • How Science Works extension: This experiment can produce a valid relationship between the number of coils and the strength of the electromagnet without any measurements, only counting.
    • After a demonstration of the procedure above, students could be asked to design a version of the experiment which would allow them to investigate two factors affecting the strength of the electromagnet: the number of coils and the current flowing in the wire. The number of paper clips held by the electromagnet could indicate the strength of the electromagnet.
    • This provides an opportunity to discuss the concept of a discrete variable and whether evidence based on discrete variables can lead to a valid conclusion.
    • The scope of variables here is limited, so this would be suitable as a first investigation that students might plan and carry out themselves, with little or no guidance. Encourage students to find appropriate ways in which to present their results to make them clear and easy to understand.
    • If students use the mass of iron filings picked up as a measure of the strength, making measurements can prove problematic. One solution is to have a mass of iron filings on a balance pan, use the electromagnet to remove whatever it can and then record the drop in the balance reading.

    This experiment was safety-checked in January 2007

    Electric current flowing through a wire creates a magnetic field that attracts ferromagnetic objects, such as iron or steel. This is the principle behind electromagnets and magnetic levitation trains. It allows cranes to pick up whole cars in the junkyard and makes your doorbell ring. You can read about it here, and then watch it work when you do these experiments. (Adult supervision recommended.)

    Electromagnetic Experiments

    Experiment 1: Electromagnetic Suction

    A single strand of wire produces only a very weak magnetic field, but a tight coil of wire (called a solenoid) gives off a stronger field. In this experiment, you will use an electric current running through a solenoid to suck a needle into a straw!

    What You Need:

    • drinking straw
    • 5 feet insulated copper wire
    • 6-volt battery
    • needle

    What You Do:

    1. Make your solenoid. Take five feet of insulated copper wire and wrap it tightly around the straw. Your solenoid should be about 3 inches long, so you’ll have enough wire to wrap a couple of layers.

    2. Trim the ends of the straw so they just stick out of the solenoid.

    3. Hold the solenoid horizontally and put the end of the needle in the straw and let go. What happens?

    4. Now strip an inch of insulation off each end of the wire and connect the ends to the 6-volt battery. Insert the needle part-way in the straw again and let go. This time what happens? (Don’t leave the wire hooked up to the battery for more than a few seconds at a time – it will get hot and drain the battery very quickly)

    When you hooked your solenoid up to a battery, an electric current flowed through the coils of the wire, which created a magnetic field. This field attracted the needle just like a magnet and sucked it into the straw. Try some more experiments with your solenoid – will more coils make it suck the needle in faster? Will it still work with just a few coils? Make a prediction and then try it out!

    Experiment 2: Electromagnet

    As you saw in the last experiment, electric current flowing through a wire produces a magnetic field. This principle comes in very handy in the form of an electromagnet. An electromagnet is wire that is tightly wrapped around a ferromagnetic core. When the wire is connected to a battery, it produces a magnetic field that magnetizes the core. The magnetic fields of the core and the solenoid work together to make a very strong magnet. The best part about it is that the magnetic force stops when the electricity is turned off! Try it yourself with this experiment:

    What You Need:

    • 5 feet insulated copper wire
    • 6-volt battery
    • large iron nail
    • paperclips

    What You Do:

    1. Tightly wrap the wire around the nail to make a solenoid with a ferromagnetic core. If you have enough wire, wrap more than one layer. (If your nail fits inside the straw from the last experiment, you can use that solenoid instead of rewrapping the wire.)

    2. Try to pick up some paperclips with the wire-wrapped nail. Can you do it?

    How to create a magnet with a wire and a nail

    3. Strip an inch of insulation off each end of the wire.

    4. Hook up the wire to the battery and try again to pick up the paperclips with the nail. This time the electricity will create a magnetic field and the nail will attract paperclips! (Don’t leave the wire hooked up to the battery for more than a few seconds at a time – it will get hot and drain the battery very quickly.)

    Experiment some more with your electromagnet. Count how many paperclips it can pick up. If you coil more wire around it will it pick up more paperclips? How many paperclips can you pick up if you only use half as much wire? What would happen if you used a smaller battery, like a D-size? Predict what you think will happen and then try it out!

    Experiment 3: Magnetic Propulsion

    A maglev (magnetically levitated) train doesn’t use a regular engine like a normal train. Instead, electromagnets in the track produce a magnetic force that pushes the train from behind and pulls it from the front. You can get an idea of how it works using some permanent magnets and a toy car.

    What You Need:

    • toy car
    • 3 bar magnets

    What You Do:

    1. Tape a bar magnet to a small toy car with the north pole at the back of the car and the south pole at the front.

    2. Put the car on a hard surface, like a linoleum floor or a table. Hold a bar magnet behind the car with the south pole facing the car. As you move it near the car, what happens? The south pole of your magnet repels the north pole of the magnet on the car, making the car move forward.

    3. Have someone else hold another magnet in front of the car, with the north pole facing the car. Does the car move faster with one magnet ‘pushing’ from behind and the other magnet ‘pulling’ from ahead?

    In our example, the permanent magnets have to move with the car to keep it going. In a maglev track, though, the electromagnets just change their poles by changing the direction of the electric current. They stay in the same spot, but their poles change as the train goes by so it will always be repelled from the electromagnets behind it and attracted by the electromagnets in front of it!

    Electromagnets are made by wrapping wire around a conductive rod, so that an electromagnetic field is created when current is passed through the wire.

    CAUTION : Do not use 110-120 volt AC power in any science experiments. This represents a dangerous electrical shock hazard. Use low-voltage DC wherever possible.

    To make a simple electromagnet ,you can wrap 50 or 100 turns of thin insulated copper wire along the length of an iron nail, forming a neat coil of wire tight along and around the nail. (Leave about 9 inches of wire free at each end of the coil to attach to the power source.)

    1. Wrap the insulated wire around the nail, moving down the nail as you go.

    2. Fix the coil of wire in place with some sticky tape.

    3. Clean off the insulation at the ends of the extra wire, for about 1 inch, exposing the shiny metal inside.

    4. Bend the ends into loops and connect to a LOW VOLTAGE direct-current power supply, such as a model train transformer or a D-cell battery pack.

    When you hold each end of the coil to the terminals of the power supply, it will send an electric current into the coil around the nail. The current will make the nail magnetic. You should then be able to pick up other nails with your electromagnet. (Doing this for just a few minutes will use up all the electric charge stored inside a battery and it will go dead.)

    Experiment by using more or less turns of wire to make the coil around the nail bigger or smaller. The more coils you wrap around the nail the stronger the magnet will get. The larger the voltage of the power source you use, the stronger your electromagnet will get. But don’t use more than 15 volts — it is dangerous because the wire could catch fire or you could receive an electric shock.

    Making an electromagnet is really quite simple. First you get some wire (22-18 gauge should do just fine). The wire must be insulated. Next, take an iron nail and coil all of the wire around the nail except a small bit on the ends. Strip off the insulation to connect to your power supply. Hook the ends up to some batteries, and presto — you have a fancy little electromagnet.

    To make an electromagnet, take an iron rod (fairly small). You’ll also need some wire, stripped at the ends. You should then wrap the wire into a coil around the iron rod. The more coils, the stronger the magnet. The two wires should be connected to your power source (a proper scientific powerpack- so you don’t electrocute yourself). Turn on the power, then see if it will attract paperclips and other small iron and steel objects.

    Ding dong! This investigation shows how your doorbell works.

    Have you ever wondered how an old-style doorbell works? This Snack shows you how. A coil of wire with current flowing through it forms an electromagnet that acts very much like a bar magnet. The coil will magnetize an iron nail and attract it in a remarkably vigorous way.

    Tools and Materials

    How to create a magnet with a wire and a nail

    • Forty feet (12 meters) of insulated bell wire
    • A plastic drinking straw about 1/4 inch (6 millimeters) in diameter cut to five or six inches (13 to 15 centimeters) in length
    • A large, 6-volt battery; you can also use a battery holder with two alkaline D cells but the effect will be weaker
    • The largest ordinary steel (not stainless) nail that will fit in the straw loosely; smooth (bright) nails are best
    • Wire stripper
    • Scissors (not shown)
    • Two alligator clip leads about 12 inches (30 centimeters) long

    Assembly

    1. Tightly wrap as many coils of wire as possible around the straw, leaving about two inches (five cm) on either end of the wire free.
    2. Use the wire strippers or scissors to strip off about one inch of the insulation at either end, exposing the wire (see photo below).
      How to create a magnet with a wire and a nail
    3. Attach an alligator clip lead to each exposed end of the wire.

    To Do and Notice

    Insert the nail partway into the coil and briefly connect the free ends of the alligator clip leads to the battery. The nail should be sucked into the coil.

    Make a prediction about what you think will happen if you reverse the leads to the battery. Insert the nail partway into the coil again, then connect the clip leads to the battery, this time reversing the positive and negative connections. Was your prediction correct?

    What’s Going On

    Any moving electric charge creates a magnetic field around it. A loop of wire with a current creates a magnetic field through the loop. You can increase the strength of this field by piling up a lot of loops. The more loops, the stronger the magnet. Like a bar magnet, this coil of wire now has a north pole and a south pole, and is an electromagnet.

    Because of the spin of electrons, which can be thought of as rotating balls of charge, each atom acts like a small magnet. Ordinarily, all these “loops” point in different directions, so the iron has no overall magnetism. But when you bring a nail near the south pole of your electromagnet, the north poles of the iron atoms will be attracted to the south pole of the electromagnet and they will all line up pointing in the same direction. The nail is now magnetized, with its north poles facing the south pole of the electromagnet. The opposite poles attract each other, so the nail is sucked into the electromagnet (click to enlarge diagram below).
    How to create a magnet with a wire and a nail

    When the direction of current is reversed, the poles of the electromagnet reverse. Knowing this, you might think that a nail inserted into the coil would now be repelled by the electromagnet. But when you try it, the nail is once again attracted and sucked into the coil. That’s because all of the nail’s iron atoms reorient to line up with whatever pole the electromagnet presents. Thus the nail will always be attracted to the electromagnet and will never be repelled.

    You can find which end of the coil is the magnetic north pole with a magnetic compass or by using the right-hand rule: make a fist with your right hand, hold it parallel to the coil, and point your thumb in the direction the current is flowing (that is, away from the positive terminal of the battery and toward the negative terminal); your thumb will point to the north end of the coil.

    Going Further

    To extend this Snack, hold the coil vertically and repeat the experiment. Try inserting smaller nails and straightened paper clips into the coil. Remove the nail from the coil and test its magnetic properties: see if you can pick up some paper clips with it, for example. If the electromagnet is not strong enough, the nail will not stay magnetized after the battery is disconnected, so to see this effect, use as large a current source as possible. If the electromagnet is strong enough, the nail may stay magnetized for a while, until the random jiggling of the iron atoms eventually moves them out of alignment again. To demagnetize the nail rapidly, drop it several times onto a solid surface, such as a cement floor. This knocks the iron atoms out of alignment. Try to pick up paper clips with the demagnetized nail.

    The principle of magnetic suction is used to make a variety of devices, from doorbells (in which an iron rod is sucked into a coil to strike a chime) to pinball machines (in which current goes through a coil, sucking in a rod attached to the flipper) to the starter switch on your car.

    In this experiment, we will make a homopolar motor! To make a simple motor (homopolar motor) that doubles as a work of art you will need three things – a battery, magnet, and wire. Use one of our neodymium magnets to power the spinning wire motor.

    How to create a magnet with a wire and a nailWhat You Will Need:

    • 1 neodymium disc magnet (0.5” diameter, with 0.25” thickness)
    • 1 AA battery, 1.5 volt
    • Copper wire (not insulated), 14 gauge
    • 12” inch ruler
    • Needle nose pliers with wire cutter

    Note: This project will take some work to get going. The end result is worth it! We recommend this project for ages 12 & up, with adult supervision.

    What to Do:

    1. To make your wire sculpture, start with a piece of wire 6” long. Make sure your wire is copper, and doesn’t have insulation or a plastic coating. Thick wire (14-16 gauge) works best. Measure 6” of wire using the ruler, then cut it using the wire cutter.

    How to create a magnet with a wire and a nail

    2. Find the middle of the wire using the ruler. Bend the wire into a V at the center, using the pliers. Then, bend each side perpendicular to the V you made.

    How to create a magnet with a wire and a nail

    3. Bend each wire end again, so the ends point down. Use the pliers.

    4. Lay the wire sculpture on a flat surface. It should lay flat. If it does not, carefully straighten it using the pliers.

    5. With the sculpture on a flat surface, hold the battery up to measure its length. Put the positive end of the battery (the side with a bump on it) next to the V of the wire. Note where you would need to bend the ends of the wire so they meet the negative end (flat side) of the battery.

    6. Bend the bottom ends of the wire sculpture at an angle using the pliers.

    7. Put the neodymium magnet on the flat bottom of the battery. This is the negative end. Stand the magnet and battery upright on a flat surface.

    8. Rest the V of the wire on top of the positive side (bump) of the battery. Carefully balance the sculpture, making sure the ends of the wire bent at an angle make contact with the magnet (not the battery).

    9. When your wire seems balanced, let go.

    10. If the motor doesn’t begin to spin, try flipping the magnet so the other side is touching the battery. If it still doesn’t work you will need to tweak your wire sculpture. Remove the battery from the magnet while you work, so it does not get too hot.

    How to create a magnet with a wire and a nail

    11. To tweak your wire sculpture so it spins keep in mind these things:

    • The wire sculpture needs to be balanced in order to spin. Make sure your wire piece is perfectly flat when it is on a flat surface.
    • The wire should also be symmetrical. Both sides should be the same. This is why you started your sculpture in the middle of the wire. Try again with a new piece of wire if necessary.
    • The ends of the wire should lightly touch the magnet. If it is a tight fit, the motor will get stuck and can’t spin. Just the ends of the wire should be making contact.

    What Happened?

    You made an electric homopolar motor! The type of current this motor uses is DC or direct current. That means the flow of electricity goes in one direction only. Electricity flows from the positive end of the battery to the negative end.

    To complete the circuit, you used a copper wire. Copper is a metal that conducts electricity. Electricity flowed from the positive end of the battery to the negative end. It flowed through the battery, into the wire, up the wire, and back into the positive end of the battery! This is called a complete circuit. Electricity is flowing one way (direct current).

    Why did the motor spin? That’s where the magnet comes in. The magnetic field has a positive end and a negative end. The magnetic field is pushing up towards the battery. The electric flow of current is pushing down towards the magnet. These opposing forces cause an outward motion on the wire – causing it to spin around the magnet.

    This kind of motor with a battery, magnet, and wire, is called a homopolar motor. Due to the force of magnetism and the flow of electricity, the wire spins one way. This motor won’t be able to power anything, but it’s fun to look at!

    Further Experiments:

    Now, you can make more elaborate designs using a longer wire. Make sure the wire is balanced. Is there a way to make the motor spin faster? Try using two magnets. Be very careful not to let the battery overheat! When done, carefully separate the wire, battery, and magnet.

    By Lesa Bolt | Submitted On February 14, 2008

    Make a science project using electricity to make a magnet

    This is great for demonstration at the science fair and is good for high school age students.

    Go to your local hardware store and get the following items:

    • A nail (you will need a long nail that is at least 3 inches long.)
    • D Batteries – you will need 2 of these
    • Thin wire
    • A wire cutter
    • Masking tape
    • Electric tape
    • Paper clips
    • A “knife” switch – you can buy one of these at Radio Shack or have it ordered out of the catalog. I believe it costs about $3.00.

    Here are the instructions to make the magnet:

    1. Taking your thin wire leave about 6 inches of wire hanging and then start wrapping the wire tightly around the long nail. You will want to wrap it around 60 times. When you are done let another 6 inches extra wire hang from that end of the nail and cut.
    2. Set your two batteries next to each other and the knife switch next to them.
    3. Take the nail with wire wrapped around and face it so that the head of the nail is on your left and the point is on the right.
    4. Take the excess wire hanging from the point of the nail and bring to the bottom of one of the batteries. This is the negative side and using the masking tape tape it to the bottom. Make sure the wire it touching the battery.
    5. Now take the excess wire that is hanging from the nail head and attach it to a terminal on the knife switch.
    6. Now cut two extra pieces of wire about 8 inches each. The first one tape onto the top or positive end of the battery which you attached the wire from the nail and bring the other end of the wire and attached with tape to the bottom or negative end of the 2nd battery.
    7. With the second piece of wire tape an end to the top or positive end of the second battery and attached the other end to the other terminals on the knife switch.
    8. Now if you push the top of the knife switch to close it you will have closed the circuit and now create electricity running through the wires and all around the nail. Do not hold the nail as it has electricity running through it. Let it lay down on the table.

    Using your paperclips bring them close to the nail and see if they are magnetized. To understand this you need to know that when current from electricity goes through the wire wrapped around the nail it makes the magnetic field. The field is extending in circles which keep expanding outward. When you twist the wire into a coil it is called a solenoid. Because the wire is coiled the magnetic field twists which causes the magnetic energy to stay inside the area of the coiled wire. This is a very strong magnet which is termed an electromagnet.

    When this electromagnet is created it causes all the fields to go one way which are consistent with a magnet and creates a north and south pole. This makes it strong enough to pick up things like a small paper clip.

    Let’s see how strong your magnet is. See how many paper clips you can pick up. What if you make the magnet with only one battery. How weak is that battery compared to one with two batteries?

    This science project is great for the demonstration at the science fair.

    Get more high school science projects [http://scienceprojects.fetching.us/high_school_science_project.htm] and kids science projects [http://scienceprojects.fetching.us/kids_science_projects.htm] with more science project ideas [http://scienceprojects.fetching.us/science%20project%20ideas.htm] here

    Lesa Bolt is a contributor to science projects.

    January 8, 2019 by OneMommy

    Magnets are so much fun to play and learn with. From colorful letters and numbers, to the magnets picked up on family vacations, kids are fascinated by how magnets work.

    The magnets on your refrigerator are permanent magnets. But did you know you can create your own temporary magnets using electricity? These type of magnets are called electromagnets.

    Recently we had fun with this simple Building an Electromagnet STEM Activity.

    It’s become one of our favorite STEM activities , and it’s perfect for elementary kids and middle schoolers.

    How to create a magnet with a wire and a nail

    While this STEM project is perfect for older kids, younger ones will be fascinated by it as well. Just be sure an adult is handling the electromagnet, as it can get hot.

    Younger kids will also like this simple exploring magnets activity .

    Electromagnet STEM Activity

    Affiliate links have been used below. See my full disclosure for more details.

    • Thin Copper Wire
    • AA Battery
    • Large Iron Nail
    • Sandpaper
    • Metal Paperclips
    • Masking Tape
    • Scissors

    Cut a piece of copper wire that is 3 feet long.

    Leave 5 inches of wire loose at one end and have your child begin wrapping the wire tightly around the iron nail. It is important to wrap the wire as neatly and tightly as possible.

    Have your child stop wrapping the wire when they have 5 inches of wire left.

    How to create a magnet with a wire and a nail

    Once the wire is wrapped around the nail have your child use sandpaper to carefully remove the outer covering of the wire from the last inch of both ends of the wire. To do this they can pinch the sandpaper around the wire and gently pull it from the wire several times.

    Use a small amount of tape to attach the ends of the wire to the ends of your battery. Use caution! The battery will get very hot once both ends of the wire are touching it. An adult should do this step for younger children.

    Hold the battery by its middle and touch one end of the nail to a paper clip. If your electromagnet has been set up correctly, the nail should now be magnetized and pick up the paper clip.

    How to create a magnet with a wire and a nail

    How do electromagnets work?

    An electromagnet is a temporary magnet. It is only magnetic when there is electricity.

    The electricity from the battery flows from the battery through the copper wire and to the nail. It temporarily arranges the molecules in the nail, making the nail magnetic.

    Caution: The electromagnet will use up the battery very quickly, which is why the battery gets hot. Make sure you disconnect the wires as soon as you are finished with this STEM activity.

    Electromagnets are used when engineers design and build motors. You can find them in MRI machines, music equipment, and in some computer parts.

    If you have old, unwanted electronics at home, you may want to have fun reverse engineering with your child and try taking electronics apart to look for a few electromagnets.

    Extension Activities to Try with Your Electromagnet:

    • How many paperclips can you pick up at one time?
    • Try making a chain of paperclips by using the electromagnet to pick up one and then touching a second paperclip with the one you’ve picked up. Then try to pick up another one. How long can you make the chain?
    • Replace your AA batter with a C or D cell battery. How does this affect the electromagnet?

    How to create a magnet with a wire and a nail

    Older kids will have fun with this Building an Electromagnet STEM Activity.

    They may even want to take the fun further and make an electromagnetic train .

    You’ll also like these posts:

    Get more fun hands-on learning ideas like this delivered to your email by subscribing to our newsletter.

    To extend the project, you can consider the following:

    • Add other materials, such as nails, to the first experiment, using the same techniques to magnetize different objects besides paper clips. Compare the results.
    • Try magnetizing the item attached to the very strong magnet for a longer time
    • Try stroking the magnet against the metal many times (say 30) in the same direction and compare the results with the original instructions.

    Make a Magnet I

    In this project, students use an existing magnet to make new magnets in two ways.

    • Two very strong bar magnets
    • Metal (not coated) paper clips
    • Other assorted bar magnets
    • Indelible marker.
    1. Examine the magnets to discover their properties. If you’re going to make a magnet, the only way to know if you’ve succeeded is to know how a magnet behaves.
    2. Try making more than one paperclip hang from the bar magnet in a magnetic chain (that is, don’t link them: just let magnetism hold them together). Figure out whether the paper clips have become magnets. (Metal touching a magnet may become a temporary magnet itself, but when separated from the source magnet, it loses the temporary magnetic properties.)
    3. a. Take a few paperclips and put them on the North side of one very strong magnet. Leave them there for several days.
    4. b. Select a paperclip and mark one end with indelible marker, so you can tell which it is. This end will be North. Using the South end of a very strong magnet, stroke the paper clip several times on both sides from the center to the South end. Then use the North end of the magnet to stroke the paper clip several times on both sides from the center to the North end.
    5. Test the magnetic properties of the two magnets that you have created. Determine which magnet that you’ve made is stronger and which lasts longer.

    Make a Magnet II

    In this project, students use a battery and electricity to make a magnet.

    • Several magnets
    • 2 large steel nails
    • 2 pieces of insulated wire – 8 to 10 inches (20 to 25 cm) in length and 16 to 20 inches (40 to 50 cm)
    • A D-cell battery
    • A battery holder
    • Iron filings
    • Paper plate
    1. Examine the magnets to discover their properties. If you’re going to make a magnet, the only way to know if you’ve succeeded is to know how a magnet behaves.
    2. Examine the nail. Make sure it isn’t a magnet. If it is, strike it with a hammer or drop it on the floor several times to demagnetize it.
    3. Make sure the ends of the shorter wire are exposed (stripped). Wrap the wire around the nail and attach the ends to the battery.
    4. Test the strength of the magnet you have made on the iron filings. Place the iron filings on the paper plate. Hold the electromagnet beneath the plate, watch the arrangement of the filings change.
    5. Repeat the directions from 2, except this time use the longer wire on the second nail, which will mean that there are more coils. What effect, if any, does this have on the strength of the magnet?
    6. Figure out a test you could do to compare the strength of the two nails-made-into-magnets. Carry out your test. What did you find?

    Opposites Attract!

    • Knowledge Bank
    • Energy
    • Electricity
    • Magnets and Electricity

    How to create a magnet with a wire and a nail

    With a strong enough magnet, you can lift a car.

    Magnets and electricity

    Magnets are different to other objects. In magnets, the electrons in atoms at one end all spin in one direction, and those in atoms at the other end all spin the opposite way. This creates a force of energy around the magnet, called a magnetic field.

    How to create a magnet with a wire and a nail

    You can turn a piece of iron into a magnet.

    What causes a magnetic field?

    In most objects, all the atoms inside are balanced – this means half of their electrons spin one way, and half spin the other way. These atoms are spaced randomly in the object.

    But magnets are different creatures! Inside a magnet, the atoms at one end contain electrons that all spin in one direction – meanwhile the atoms at the other end contain electrons that all spin in the opposite direction.

    Rather than spinning in a balanced way, the electrons all line up. This is what creates the magnetic field around the magnet.

    What are the North and South Pole of a magnet?

    The North (N) and South (S) Pole of a magnet are the names given to each end of the magnet. The force of the magnetic field flows from its North Pole to its South Pole.

    Try it yourself: Hold two magnets close to each other. You’ll find that if you try to push the two North Poles or the two South Poles together, they resist and repel each other. But if you put the North Pole near the South Pole, they attract each other and pull together.

    How to create a magnet with a wire and a nail

    Magnets can create energy.

    Can you make electricity from magnets?

    Yep, just as we can make magnets from electricity, we can also use magnets to make electricity. Here’s how it works:

      A magnetic field pulls and pushes electrons in certain objects closer to them, making them move. Metals like copper have electrons that are easily moved from their orbits. If you move a magnet quickly through a coil of copper wire, the electrons will move – this produces electricity.

    How to create a magnet with a wire and a nail

    Magnetic fields are areas where an object exerts a magnetic influence (think of it like an invisible field of magnetism).

    The North Pole and South Pole are the two ends of a magnet. The North and South Poles of two magnets attract each other, but two Norths or two Souths will repel each other.

    If you cut a bar magnet in half, you get two new smaller magnets which each have their own North and South Pole.

    How to create a magnet with a wire and a nail

    A compass is essentially a magnet that is free to move.

    The arrangement of atoms and the direction of their spinning electrons is different in magnets to other objects. As half a magnet’s atoms have electrons spinning in one direction, and the other half have electrons spinning in the other direction, a magnetic field is created around the magnet.

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