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Electromagnetism Science Project



This electromagnetism science project article offers instructions on how to build electromagnets, including a list of materials and step-by-step instructions on how to build an electromagnetism science project for your next science fair.

Introduction

In this project, students build an electromagnet in a variety of forms and then extend their learning in several ways.

Build Electromagnets

In this project, students make a progressive sequence of electromagnets to help them understand its function.

SAFETY WARNING: Caution is required when working with electricity. Adult cooperation and supervision are recommended. Use these instructions at your own risk.

Materials

  • Coil of insulated wire, 22-30 gauge
  • 12” (30 cm) plastic coated hookup wire with the ends stripped to expose the metal
  • 2 “D” cell flashlight batteries
  • 1-“D” Battery Holder (for example, Radio Shack model 270-403)
  • 2-“D” Battery Holder (for example, Radio Shack model 270-386)
  • knife switch
  • 6” (15 cm) iron nail
  • 6” (15 cm) steel bolt
  • 6” (15 cm) aluminum nail or spike
  • 6” (15 cm) pencil with no metal eraser holder
  • 6” wooden dowel - pencil thickness
  • box of steel paper clips
  • compass
  • magnet

Directions for Part I

  1. Place one battery in the battery holder. Attach the open knife switch to one of the batter holder leads.
  2. Join one end of the hookup wire to one of the battery holder leads.
  3. Now join the other end of the hookup wire to the open knife switch.
  4. Flip the switch to close the circuit.
  5. Move paperclips into the proximity of the wire. Observe what happens.
  6. Move the compass into the proximity of the wire. Observe what happens.
  7. Open the knife switch to break the circuit.
  8. Disconnect the hookup wire on both ends.

Directions for Part II

  1. Observe the behavior of paper clips, the compass, and the magnet when brought into the proximity of the dowel, the aluminum nail, the pencil, the iron nail, and the steel nail.
  2. Take the wooden dowel and wrap 100 turns of the insulated wire, starting and ending at the same end, and leaving a tail of about 5” (12 cm) of wire at the start. Make sure all of your coils are wrapped in the same direction.
  3. Join one tail wire from the dowel to one of the battery holder leads.
  4. Now join the other tail wire from the dowel to the open knife switch.
  5. Flip the switch to close the circuit.
  6. Move paperclips into the proximity of the wire. Observe what happens.
  7. Move the compass into the proximity of the wire. Observe what happens.
  8. Open the knife switch to break the circuit.
  9. Disconnect the hookup wire on both ends.

Extend Your Understanding of the Electromagnet

In this section, students extend their understanding of their observations by making alterations to their basic project.

1. Adapt your design by replacing the dowel with each of the following, and repeat Part II. Make sure that that in each case, the knife switch is open before and after you begin your modification.

  • 6” (15 cm) aluminum nail or spike
  • 6” (15 cm) pencil with no metal eraser holder
  • 6” (15 cm) iron nail
  • 6” (15 cm) steel bolt

How does the behavior of the electromagnet change?

2. Adapt your design by removing half the coils of wire using various cores and repeating Part II. Then double the number of coils of wire on various cores and repeat Part II. Make sure that that in each case, the knife switch is open before and after you begin your modification.

How does the behavior of the electromagnet change?

3. Replace the one-battery holder with the two-battery holder and repeat Part II using various cores and various amounts of coil.

How does the behavior of the electromagnet change?

4. Design an experiment to test the influence of the size of the core on the strength of the electromagnet.

5. Research the range of uses to which electromagnets are put.

6. Design a new use for an electromagnet.