It was a boring Thursday afternoon, and the kids had nothing to do. But when I checked the mail, I saw that my shipment of 22 gauge enamel coated copper wire had just arrived. So of course we made electromagnets!
We had a ton of fun making the electromagnets, and even more fun playing with them.
First we gathered our supplies:
- 22 gauge Magnet wire
- D battery
- A nail
- Sand Paper
- Battery Holder (if you don’t have one, you could tape the wires on with electrical tape)
Then the kids used the sand paper to strip the coating off the ends of the wire. This is needed so that the wire can make contact with the battery holder. The wire has to have a coating or else the electricity would not flow through the wire coils, but would jump across and complete as short of a circuit as possible.
Then just wrap the wire around the nail and connect it to the battery holder. It is that simple.
We had lots of fun picking up nails, keys, scissors, and other objects. Then we had tug of war battles, and experimented to try to make our electromagnets stronger. At first mine was the strongest, then Elijah improved his and beat me in a tug of war. We also played with some permanent magnets and saw how our electromagnets also had a north and south pole. And we tried turning the battery around to see what would happen. Comment below if you think you know.
How does it work?
Whenever electricity flows through a wire, it creates a very very weak magnetic field. By wrapping the wire around the nail, you line up the magnetic fields from different parts of the wire, and you get a stronger magnetic field.
Don’t leave your magnet turned on for a long time – it will get hot.
Experiment with ideas to make your electromagnet stronger:
- Use more or less wire
- More or different size batteries
- Replace the nail with a different material
- Or some of your own ideas.