Making An Electromagnet

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making an electromagnet

Making An Electromagnet

More powerful than a regular magnet, this electromagnet demonstrates the power that batteries have to turn common household objects into powerful magnets. Let’s learn about making an electromagnet.

What You Will Need

– one three inch iron nail
– three feet of thin coated copper wire
– one new D size battery
– some paper clips, nails, or other magnetic objects

What You Will Do

Wrap most of the copper wire around the nail, trying not to overlap it. Leave about eight inches loose on both ends. Remove about an inch of coating from each end and attach them to both ends of the battery. Tape the wires to the battery if you can, but be careful as they can get hot.

Your electromagnet is complete! Put the point of the nail near your magnetic objects and watch them get picked up with ease.

Note: save the life of your battery by disconnecting your magnet once you are done playing.

A video of this experiment can be found here.

What is Going On?

Most common magnets are permanent magnets and can’t be turned off. In contrast, electromagnets run on electricity and can be turned on and off. They have the power to turn objects that typically aren’t magnetic (like a nail) into one by rearranging the molecules by flowing electricity through it.

Want a kit that makes this even easier? Get it here:

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Oliver Gauss
Oliver has a degree in physics and mathematics and has completed all but his dissertation for a Ph.D. in Physics. He believes actual science should decide scientific disagreements, and that most people who use "science" to defend their emotion-based opinions have no idea what science actually is. Oliver is the editor of WeWantScience.com and has two new sites coming out soon. Stay tuned!