How to Make an Electromagnet From a Battery

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An electromagnet can be made by wrapping a coil of wire around cardboard, or a pencil, and attaching this wire to a battery. Make an electromagnet for picking up paperclips at home with help from a science teacher in this free video on electromagnets and physics.

Part of the Video Series: Physics & Electromagnetism
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Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Steve Jones, and I'm going to explain how to make an electric magnet from a battery. Now, the word electric magnet doesn't really exist. It's actually called an electromagnet, so get the word electromagnet. And it involves using a battery to create magnetism, so this is a magnet which is not permanent. It doesn't last forever. In fact, it lasts as long as you have the current running. All I do is I make a coil of wire. The coil of wire, usually copper wire and it's insulated with plastic, should be a reasonable length. Otherwise, you'll tend to find it gets too hot. Wrap it round a piece of cardboard, or even a pencil or something like that, that's fine, and attach it to the battery. This is an electromagnet. Make sure you wrap it always the same way round. The more coils you put on it the stronger it will get. When you attach it to the battery it will pick up things like paper clips and so forth. It won't be very strong, and to make it stronger I should perhaps use an iron nail in the center of it. So, instead of wrapping it round a pencil you can wrap it round a pencil first, take out the pencil, put in an iron nail, and it will be ten times as strong, and then you'll be able to pick up your paper clips and things of that kind. Also, if you put an extra cell in the battery, a battery is a group of cells. If you put an extra cell in the battery; there you've got one there. If we put another one, and maybe another one then you will get a much stronger effect. The danger here is that you'll melt the wire, because the current will be quite big. So, you make sure as it gets hot that it doesn't get too hot. So, that is basically how to make an electromagnet, or should we say an electromagnet from a battery, and should I say using a battery.

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