Home science experiments: How to make a magnet

As part of our home science experiment series, we are showing you how to gets hands on with science to make learning more fun.

Read on to find out how you can create your own electromagnet from the contents of a toolbox!

You will need:

  • D battery
  • Iron nail
  • Thin-coated copper wire
  • Magnetic object e.g. paperclips

Step 1: Strip it down

Being careful not to cut yourself or the wire, trim 2.5cm (1in) of plastic coating away from the wire at each end.

Step 2: Wrap the nail

Wrap the wire around the nail, with about 20cm (8in) of wire free at either end.

Step 3: Tape it down

Using electrical tape, secure one end of the wire to the positive end of the battery and the other to the negative end of the battery.

Step 4: Make your magnet

Congratulations, you have now made an electromagnet! Test it by picking up your magnetic items, then take a photo of your creation and send it to us on Facebook and Twitter!

Home made magnet

What you’ve learnt:

Electricity flowing through a wire creates a magnetic field. Winding this around an object concentrates the field.

The molecules in the nail are rearranged by the electricity flowing through them. This makes them point in the same direction.

Once enough atoms point in the same direction, they will pick up other magnetic items.

Each atom is magnetic but as they are scattered, they cancel each other out.


Find more fun projects to try at home with the How It Works Book of Science Experiments, available to order online or download onto your digital device.