Electromagnet project – Electricity – Science

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Build your own electromagnet with a nail, some copper wire, and a battery

Build your own electromagnet with a nail, some copper wire, and a battery

You can build your own electromagnet. Get about five meters of copper magnet wire (you can buy it at Radio Shack or Home Depot), a large iron nail or another piece of iron about the same size like a butter knife, a rubberband, some sandpaper, and an AA battery.

Wind all of the copper wire around and around the iron nail, being sure to always go in the same direction so the electrons will all be flowing the same way. When you’re done, use the sandpaper to sand off the enamel coating from the very tips of your copper wire – just the last centimeter at each end of the wire. The wire will be a different color under the enamel coating.

Now connect your electromagnet to the AA battery, one wire touching the negative end and one wire touching the positive end. Use the rubberband to hold the wires in place. Is your electromagnet working – will it attract paper clips? How does it react to Brio trains? (Note: it will get warm – that’s normal – it’s from the friction of all those electrons pushing their way through the wire.)

For more excellent suggestions of projects with electromagnets, check out these projects from Hila Science Camp

Here’s another great one: build an electric motor

Learn by Doing – Magnets
Learn by Doing – Making a compass
More about magnets
More about Electromagnets
The invention of the compass
More about Electricity

Bibliography and further reading about magnets and electricity:

Quatr.us home

By |2018-05-31T11:49:13+00:00August 16th, 2017|Physics|5 Comments
Cite this page: Carr, K.E. Electromagnet project – Electricity – Science. Quatr.us Study Guides, August 16, 2017. Web. October 15, 2018.

About the Author:

Dr. Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram, Pinterest, or Facebook, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.


  1. Manzil July 23, 2018 at 1:58 am - Reply

    Hi Karen, is there any way I could get in touch with you privately about my makerspace and DIY science and math endeavours in schools of Pakistan? Thanks and looking forward.

  2. jjjjjjj February 2, 2018 at 7:46 am - Reply


    • Karen Carr February 2, 2018 at 10:30 pm

      Thank you!

  3. kenady February 1, 2018 at 9:21 am - Reply

    hey this paraghraph didn’t teach me alote about electro magnets please put more info in this please thankyou.

    • Karen Carr February 1, 2018 at 9:33 am

      I’d be happy to answer your questions, but “more info” is too general: can you tell me what you wanted to know?

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