Make an Electromagnet
What you need:
• Insulated copper wire with ends stripped
• Large iron nail
• Small paper clips or staples
1. Wrap the copper
wire around the nail and touch the ends of the wire to the battery. Be
careful to always wrap the wire in the same direction. Wrap it as
tightly as you can. Try to pick up the paper clips. Does it work? Be
careful, the battery may get hot!
2. Try the experiment again with more wire wrapped
around the nail. Can you pick up more paper clips? What happens if you
use a bigger nail? A nail made of a different material?
What’s going on?
An electromagnet is a magnet that can be turned on and off. In this
experiment, the battery is a source of electrons. When you connect the
wire to the battery, the electrons flow through the wire. If there is
not a complete circuit, the electrons will not flow. Electrons behave
like little magnets and when they flow through a wire, they create a
magnetic field, which turns the nail into a magnet that can pick up
paper clips and staples!
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