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?