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In this activity, learners build an electromagnet using a nail, a cork, a battery, and electrical wire. Use this activity to demonstrate how electric currents produce magnet fields. [Activity is publicly available through a web crawler capture on Archive.org.]

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
30 to 45 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$5 - $10 per student

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 11

Resource Types:
Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan


Materials List (per student)

  • 1 long nail
  • 1 cork
  • 36" magnet wire, or small gauge vinyl insulated wire
  • 1 small piece of foil
  • 5-10 paperclips
  • 5-10 thumb tacks
  • electrical tape
  • wire cutter
  • sandpaper


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Electrical Engineering
  • Physical Sciences
    • Electricity and Magnetism
      • Electric Charges and Currents
      • Electromagnetic Fields
      • Electric Circuits
      • Earth's Magnetic Field
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations

Informal Categories

  • Electronics


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Mission Science Workshop


  • All rights reserved, Mission Science Workshop, 2013

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