Name of Activity Electromagnets
Author STOMP
Keywords electricity, magnetism, electromagnets, circuits, magnet
Subject Non-LEGO
Grade Level 4
Time 1 Hour Total
Brief Description Students will be asked to create their own electromagnet, illustrating to them the relationship between electricity and magnetism.
Lesson Objectives: Allow students to use their prior knowledge of electricity and magnetism to create an electromagnet.
Materials Needed: -Nails with iron core, preferably. (Note: Stainless steel nails will probably not work!)
-D or 9V batteries
-Electrical tape
-Small paper clips (for testing magnetism)
Preparation and Set Up: -Collect materials
-Cut and strip several feet of electrical wire (~4-5 feet per group)
Necessary Background Students should now have a good understanding of both electricity and magnetism. They should have had an introduction explaining how the two concepts are related.
  1. Arrange students into pairs or small groups. If materials are not an issue, pairs would probably be best.
  2. Provide each pair with one D or 9V battery, one strand of wire, one or more nails, and a bit of electrical tape.
  3. Allow students to try to create the electromagnet on their own, although it will be necessary to explain to them why wrapping the wire around the nail will create a magnetic field.
  4. Students will probably struggle, but most of the times the problem is just that they need to wrap more wire around the nail to create a stronger magnetic field.
Online Reference(s)
Umbrella Unit/Curriculum (if applicable) Electricity & Magnetism
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One Response to Electromagnets

  1. The nails are a crucial component to this activity. We brought stainless steel nails as well as some zinc nails that we found in the CEEO, and only the zinc nails would work! It was unfortunate because they were only about 2 in long so students had a hard time wrapping their wire around the nail. Summary: order better nails!

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