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Make a Speaker: A Coil, a Magnet, and Thou

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    The Exploratorium

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Make a Speaker: A Coil, a Magnet, and Thou

Make your own simple speaker so you can listen to your favorite radio station. Just wind a coil, attach it to a piece of cardboard or Styrofoam, hold a magnet nearby, and listen. This activity explores electromagnetism and teaches about the way sound moves, from a singer's vocal cords, though radio waves, and all the way to a listener's ear.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
30 to 45 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per student

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 18

Resource Type:


Materials List (per student)

  • coated copper magnet wire, 2 feet (60 cm) or more, of 24 gauge or higher (thinner)
  • magnets, at least 2 (we recommend magnets 1 inch in diameter and 1/4 thick)
  • tape Player, CD player, or radio, with headphone plug
  • a mini mono phono plug connected to two alligator clips
  • a piece of cardboard, or Styrofoam
  • sticky tape
  • a D cell battery, pen, pencil, or marker (used only to wrap the wire into a coil)
  • sandpaper, about 2 inches (5 cm) square


  • Physical Sciences
    • Electricity and Magnetism
      • Electric Charges and Currents
      • Electromagnetic Fields
      • Electric Circuits
    • Vibration and Waves
      • Sound

Informal Categories

  • Electronics
  • Music


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • hear
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Doherty, Paul


  • All Rights Reserved, Exploratorium, ©2003


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