Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Science Fair I – Electro Magnet

This Friday we have to submit 2 science experiments to my nephew’s school. Although they are not even 5 years old yet I can already see their work load beginning to build up. I never took any of my projects in school seriously and did not have the kind of parents that were involved in my school work, although they were great parents. This is my opportunity to shine and really participate in the kid’s edjimacation. Now I can just barely keep up with the work they are doing, once they hit algebra will be unable to offer any assistance. So Aaryan’s project has to be something to do with science and physics. I never studied physics in school so I really could not come up with any project for him. Then one night a few weeks ago while watching discovery channel, I saw a snippet of some guy making an electro magnet. But these things all look really good on TV and when you try to implement them in real life you fall flat on your ass. So I got cracking to see if I could make this work today. First I gathered my supplies.

4 Large Batteries
1 Long Length of Insulated Copper Wire
20 Paper Clips
1 Transparent Sticky-Tape
3 Long Nails for Wood
3 Long Nails for Concrete

First I wound the wire tightly around the length of the wood nail. About a meter of wire should be sufficient. This task is not as easy as it sounds because the insulation is quite thick and kept uncoiling. I had to struggle with the sticky tape for a while before I got it to hold. Leave about 2 inches of wire to spare on each end of the nail. Peal away about 1cm of insulation at each end leaving the copper wire exposed.

Tape 2 large batteries together top to bottom. At this point I can demonstrate that the nail alone with the wire wrapped around it has no magnetic properties.

Then hold one end of the naked copper wire to the bottom of the batteries and the other exposed end against the top. There is no risk of getting a shock here by touching the naked wire so make sure you hold it firmly against the center of the poles of the battery. Then comes the moment of truth. I was not sure if the nail would become a magnet but it did. It was not a very strong one though. I only managed to pick up a few paper clips. But it was still pretty cool.

I am going to demonstrate all variables to Aaryan, giving him options of what nails to use and what materials to try and pick up. There are many different variables to experiment with like using more batteries or different nails. This is where you can use the concrete nail that is NOT made of steel. It does not have any magnetic properties.

Then I have another steel nail that I have wound up in a longer length of wire, so it is double fold. The power of this magnet is stronger for some reason. As this project is going to be on display in school for a week I am planning to display the set up on a cardboard tray that I will make to look like a construction yard with toy trucks. I could make a game out of this where the kids have to count haw many clips they can move over on each go using the different electro magnets. Now I have to go find out why the electro magnet works so I can give the kid a good explanation. Tonight I start working on Zubin’s project, science and nature...


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