Electromagnet – the improved version

Posted by: on Feb 6, 2014 | No Comments

Making an electromagnet is fun and easy.

You will needelectro magnet

A large iron nail (about 3 inches)

About 3 feet of THIN COATED copper wire

A fresh D size battery

Some paper clips



1. Leave about 8 inches of wire loose at one end and wrap most of the rest of the wire around the nail. Try not to overlap the wires.

2. Cut the wire (if needed) so that there is about another 8 inches loose at the other end.

3. Now remove about an inch of the plastic coating from both ends of the wire and attach the one wire to one end of a battery and the other wire to the other end of the battery. (It is best to tape the wires to the battery – be careful though, the wire could get very hot!)

Now the fun part. You can experiment by picking up paper clips and finding out how to turn the electromagnet on and off. Pretend your magnet is like one of those cranes they use at junkyards. Try picking something up, moving it somewhere else and then dropping it exactly where you want, by turning off the electrical current. What else will be attracted to your new device! Will it pick up all metal objects. How strong is it? How many paper clips will it pick up for example?

What’s Happening?

Most magnets, like the ones on many refrigerators, cannot be turned off; they are called permanent magnets. This one can be and is therefore called an electromagnet. It runs on electricity and is only magnetic when the electricity is flowing. The electricity flowing through the wire arranges the molecules in the nail so that they are attracted to certain metals.

These magnetic ‘domains’ within the nail are lined up in the same direction when the electromagnet is switched on, and jumbled up (at the same time losing their magnetism) when it is switched off.

Thanks to, and adapted from listverse.com