In addition to building a basic circuit with a switch and a light bulb, another fun thing to do with electricity is to make an electromagnet!

You can use an electrical current to turn a large nail into a magnet.  The electrical current causes the electrons in the nail to all spin the same direction, which creates magnetism.  Cool, huh?  Your boys will be impressed that you can do this!

To make one, you will need:  a 6 volt lantern battery, a long piece of copper wire, alligator clips, and a large nail.

To make ours, I stripped a small amount of the covering off of the copper wire on both ends and then wrapped the wire around the nail.  Then I needed 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, I connected the ends of the wire to wires with alligator clips and then to the battery terminals.  Voila!  Electromagnet!

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 technical terms, this is resistance.  All electrical conductors oppose the flow of electricity to some degree, and some of the electricity is lost as heat.

Science is pretty cool!

3 Comments

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  1. Priya Sep 3, 2012

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

    Reply
    1. 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!

      Reply
      1. 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!

        Reply
        1. Riya Oct 29, 2018

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

          Reply
          1. Riya Oct 29, 2018

            That was very rude Ms. Jannat Jadeb.

            Reply
            1. 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".

              Reply

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