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Science Fair Projects: Build an Electromagnet

An electromagnet is just like a regular magnet except that it is powered from electric currents. The magnetic field is created when the wire is tightly coiled around an object, this gives off a strong magnetic field. The way the electricity flows through the wire re-arranges the molecules so that they are attracted to certain metals. Unlike regular magnets, because electromagnets are powered by electric currents, they can be turned on and off, and therefore harnessed for practical uses.

How to Build an Electromagnet

Due to the flexibility of electromagnets, meaning the ability to turn on and off, we can control this and use it in everyday life. So many tools use electromagnets today, that you probably don't even realize it. You can find electromagnets in the motors of cars, generators in homes, earphones, loudspeakers, telephones, automatic doors, some bigger doctors' equipment (like an MRI machine), and even hard drives.

  • How to build a powerful electromagnet?
      • Materials:
      • 3-inch iron nail
      • 3-feet of copper wire (Tip: Thin wire is better)
      • New D-cell battery
      • About 20 paper clips
      • Tape

      How to Build an Electromagnet


      1. First, you are going to prepare to wrap the wire around the nail. You are going to make sure you leave about 8 inches of wire loose at one end of the nail. Then tightly wrap the rest of the wire around the nail. Try not to overlap the wires.
      2. Once you are finished wrapping the wire around the nail, we want to leave another 8 inches at that end. You might have to cut it, if the wire is too long.
      3. Next, you are going to remove about 1 inch of the plastic coating off of the wire on each end, so the actual metal wire is exposed.
      4. Take one end of the wire and wrap it around one end of the battery. Take the other wire and wrap it around the opposite end of the battery. Be careful though, as the wire can start getting hot.
      5. Now you have an ELECTROMAGNET! Use the end of the nail to try and get the force to pull the paper clips onto the nail.
      6. Observe the progress of the number of paper clips it can pull and record your findings.
      7. Try out some other possibilities: Does the number of times the wire is wrapped around the nail, thickness or length of the nail, or thickness of the wire coating, affect the potency?
      8. Record your results.

      Smart Tip: The battery life can die pretty quickly, which is what causes the battery to heat. Be sure to take off the wire when you are finished with your experiment.