Activity Introduction

Quick summary: In this experiment students make an electromagnet using some wire, a nail and a small battery.

These Snappy Science resources have been created to boost science education in primary schools across Australia. Each lesson is designed to support teachers with the scientific knowledge, ideas and resources to stimulate a sense of wonder and curiosity in their students. Many of the big issues that Australian society will face in the future are around technology, energy, resources and climate change. All of these require students to engage with science – but most of all to enjoy science!

Science at Home: These Snappy Science resources can also be used to engage families in fun science and learning for life. You can download a student friendly version of this activity here and you can also check out the Snappy Science Digital Library.

General capabilities: Critical and creative thinking.

Australian Curriculum content description: This activity is relevant to Science Inquiry Skills across all primary year levels of the Australian Curriculum.

Year 2 Science

  • A push or a pull affects how an object moves or changes shape (ACSSU033)

Year 4 Science

  • Forces can be exerted by one object on another through direct contact or from a distance (ACSSU076)

Syllabus OutcomesST1-7PW, ST2-7PW

Time required: 10 – 15 minutes.

Resources required: 2-3 feet of ball wire (copper wire with a plastic insulated sheathing), large nail, C or D battery, small metal objects (paper clips, thumbtacks, safety pins etc.), scissors (or a wire stripping tool), sticky tape.

Safety advice: Ensure students don’t touch the exposed wire once the wire is attached to the battery. The exposed wire will get very hot. And NEVER get the wires of the electromagnet near at household outlet!

Keywords: Magnet, electromagnet, wire, nail.

Cool Australia’s curriculum team continually reviews and refines our resources to be in line with changes to the Australian Curriculum.


Teacher Worksheet

Brief summary:

In this experiment students make an electromagnet using some wire, a nail and a small battery.

Students can use the Predict, Observe, Explain table on the Student Worksheet to describe and reflect upon this experiment.

You will need:

  • 2-3 feet of ball wire (copper wire with a plastic insulated sheathing)
  • Large nail
  • C or D battery
  • Small metal objects (paper clips, thumbtacks, safety pins etc.)
  • Scissors (or a wire stripping tool)
  • Sticky tape

What to do:

Step 1. Wrap the wire around the nail making a coil, leaving 10 – 15cm of wire extending from each end. Do your best to wrap it as tightly as you can.

Step 2. Trim about 1.5cm of the plastic covering from each end of the wire. If you have a wire stripping tool you can use these, or you can score them with a pair of scissors strip off the plastic using your fingers.

Step 3. Cut a long strip of tape and use it to secure the battery to the table.

Step 4. Hold the nail wrapped wire and pinch the ends of t

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Student Worksheet

In this activity you will make an electromagnet with a nail, a small battery and some wire.


Explain what you think will happen:


Explain what happened:


Explain why you think this happened:

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