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Activity Name:


How long did it take?

1 hour


  • D batteries (bring extra!)
  • wire (2 armslengths long)
  • iron nails (at least 4 inches long)
  • tape
  • paperclips (to pick up to test magnet)

Vocabulary to know about for this activity: magnetic poles, protons, electrons, magnetic field, electric field, iron bar/nail, battery, wire

Background/Things to know about for this activity: Demonstrate the similarities between electricity and magnetism by comparing magnetic poles with protons and electrons. Students can relate to magnets attracting so it gives them an idea of how electricity flows. Explain that a wire with both ends connected to a battery and wrapped around iron creates a magnetic. This is an important MCAS concept for 4th graders.

Preparation (what should one do to prepare): Test batteries and make sure the nails can be magnetized with the length of wire that you cut. We found that D batteries were more effective than 9 volt batteries.

Procedure (how to go about the activity): Introduce magnets and electricity and how to create an electromagnet. Give students the materials and let them build and test their magnet by picking up different objects.

How can the EDP or engineering design practices be incorporated into this activity? Students got really excited and creative by finding and testing different objects that their magnet might pick up.

Comment: In the comment field please comment of how this activity went for you, how long it took, how long you expected it to take, if there were any other materials that you would have wanted to have, how your was teacher involved in this activity, if it was age/grade level appropriate for the students and any other comments about this activity you think are important for the next person to use this activity to know.



  File Modified
JPEG File P1020695.JPG electromagnet May 03, 2013 by Amanda K. Rock
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