Mammoth Memory

How to make an electromagnet

You can make an electromagnet by having a core of magnetic material (such as iron) surrounded by a coil of wire through which an electric current is passed to magnetise the core.

"Electromagnet" is electric and magnet pushed together.

Electric and magnet make electromagnet

Experimental objects

Objects you need for an electromagnet experiment

Take a length of thin, insulated copper wire and wrap it tightly around the nail and make sure you leave two lengths of wire at either end.

Copper wire wrapped around an iron nail.

Remove the insulation from the ends and curl the bared wire around to make sure you get better contact with your battery.

Copper wire with coiled ends wrapped around an iron nail.

Line up the two ends of the copper wire with the battery, one on the +ve end and one on the -ve end.


The battery will get very warm so use a cloth or tea towel to hold the ends of the wire on each end of the battery.

Connecting the ends of the copper wire to a battery.

Now hold the wire and the nail up against the metal objects.

Electromagnet made from a copper wire wrapped around an iron nail connected to a battery.

The iron nail has become a magnet.

Electromagnet picking up objects.

This works because the electricity flowing through the copper wire has aligned the atoms in the nail to a north and south facing pole, therefore producing a magnetic field around the nail.

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