An electromagnet is a kind of magnet that creates a magnetic field by running a flow of electric current through a wire. This is the same concept behind almost all electronic gadgets in use nowadays. Imagine a world without televisions that keep us well-informed radios that keep us relaxed and computers that keep us busy. Truly, we all have a lot to be grateful for.
Do you want to teach your kid about electromagnets? Is there a science fair coming soon? If so, then why not help him make his very own electromagnet to show off his friends at school? Read on to learn how.
- Prepare the materials. The materials that you will need to make a homemade electromagnet are the following: a small screwdriver or any handheld apparatus, a meter of copper wire, screws or any small metal object, a small wire stripper and a 9-volt battery.
- Wrap the apparatus. To start making your electromagnet, get a screwdriver or any handheld apparatus that you want to use as long as it has a metal part. Take your copper wire. Leave about 5 inches of it before you start covering the metal part. Continue coiling the copper wire around the metal part until you cover it entirely. Leave another 5 inches on its tail.
- Strip ends. Once done, take the ends and use a wire stripper to expose about an inch of wires beneath each end.
- Connect the ends. Once exposed, connect the wires to the battery, as the 9-volt battery will serve as the power source. You will notice two terminals on the battery. Take one end and connect it with the positive lead and the other on the negative. Make sure that you attach them properly and set aside for about an hour.
- While waiting. If you are doing this project with your child, this is the best time to explain how electromagnetism works. By setting this experiment as an example, tell him that connecting the wires wrapped around the screwdriver to the power source will allow electric current to flow through the wire, thus affecting the metal part of the screwdriver in the process and thereby creating a magnetic field on that very part. The one-hour wait is done to strengthen the magnetic field some more and to make it last longer.
- Disconnect the wires. When the hour is up, disconnect the wires attached to the battery terminals and uncoil the copper wire covering the screwdriver. It has now become an electromagnet. Test it by scattering screws or nails and try picking them one by one. You can test it on any other metal objects too such as safety pins and needles. Keep in mind though that the strength of the electromagnet will fade over time but you can always recharge it anytime.
- Recharging tips. Gather the copper wire you have used for this project and store them away until you need to recharge. Follow the same procedure but use a different battery this time as the battery power supply will be all used up.
And there you have it, a homemade electromagnet that your kid can learn and have fun with at the same time! Remember to always practice safety and never, in any circumstances, use a powerful battery such as the automobile kind to prevent the risk of electrocution and fire.