A magnet is simply anything that produces a magnetic field. It is this invisible magnetic field which allows the magnet to “stick” to some types of metal, like iron and steel. We often see the magnetic field of a magnet represented as lines leading from one end of the magnet (the North pole) to the opposite end of the magnet (the South pole).
Here’s what you’ll need:
1. One 9-volt battery
2. Three feet of thin copper wire
3. Electrician’s tape (usually thick, black, stretchy tape)
4. One three inch steel, galvanized nail (not stainless steel or aluminum)
5. Several paper clips (metal ones, not plastic ones!)
Here’s what to do:
1. Wrap the copper wire around the nail as tight as you can, at least 50 times. Leave at least 4 inches of wire hanging off each end of the nail.
3. Use the hook at the head end of the nail to hang the wire onto the positive terminal of the battery. The end of the wire should touch the inside bottom of the terminal. Secure the wire firmly in place with electrician’s tape.
4. Use the hook at the point end of the nail to hang the wire onto the negative terminal of the battery. The end of the wire should touch the inside bottom of the terminal. Secure the wire firmly in place with electrician’s tape.
NOTE: Use caution here, because the battery will get hot!!
Did your magnet work well? How many paper clips could you pick up?
MAKE UP YOUR OWN EXPERIMENT!
Connect more than one battery together, and see how many paperclips you can pick up! Just connect the head end of the nail to the positive terminal of one battery, and the point end of the nail to the negative terminal of the other battery. Then cut a small piece of wire to connect the open terminals of the two batteries together.
Try using a 12-volt battery instead. How many paper clips do you think your nail will be able to pick up?
Try using a longer nail, or a larger piece of steel.
References for further reading:
1) Magnet. Wikipedia. 2014, Apr 26. Retrieved 5-20-2014. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnet)
2) Magnetic Field. Wikipedia. 2014, May 22. Retrieved 5-22-2014. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnetic_field)
3) How Magnets Work. HowMagnetsWork.com. Retrieved 5-21-14. (http://www.howmagnetswork.com/)
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