Investigating Electromagnetism

Energy ecoSTEM Kit Materials Used: Nails, Winding Wire, Magnets, Iron Filings & Sandpaper

ENGAGE - Students Observe This Phenomenon


GATHER Energy Investigations


REASON Energy Electromagneticism

EXPLORE a Kit-Supported Learning Experience

After observing Teach Engineering’s video about making an electromagnet, students will construct an explanation of the phenomenon and try to make a model that replicates the effect, using steel nails, copper winding wire (which can be sanded on the ends to remove insulation), and iron filings. Bring your own batteries (C or D), scissors or wire cutters, and paper clips.


Students should be able to explain that magnetism can produce electricity and electricity can produce magnetism. Also, students should be able demonstrate at least one factor that can cause an electromagnet to become stronger (or weaker), including how many times the wire is coiled, whether the magnet, nail or battery in the coil is part way out, whether the circuit is connected to a battery. All motors contain electromagnets.


Students may try Teach Engineering’s "Get Your Motor Running” investigation to see how a source of power (battery) and a magnet can create a spinning “motor” and research motors to determine which contain electromagnets (virtually all).


This Amazing Science video shows how to make an electromagnetic “train” with a AA battery, 18 gauge bare copper wire, and 4 – 6  disc-shaped neodymium magnets.



After making sense of a core idea by engaging in science or engineering practices through the lens of crosscutting concepts, students revise their original explanations of a phenomenon.


Students brainstorm devices they can build that would solve a problem by creating a temporary electromagnet.