In the same way that electrical current creates a magnetic field, the reverse is also true. In this activity, your students will build electric motors that are enabled by magnets. This hands-on experience has real-world application, as all electric motors in our lives come from this basic principle.
Each group will need:
It’s a good idea to build your own electric motor in advance so you know how to do the activity and you can work through the troubleshooting steps.
Put your students into groups of two or three and then have them follow the following steps:
If the coil doesn’t spin, here are some things students can try:
Make sure your students make observations on their "Build an electric motor" worksheet and that they complete the analysis.
Have the groups share their experience creating an electric motor. Students can talk about what they found challenging, how they solved problems, and what success looked like.
Students can test different variables that affect the way an electric motor works, including:
Describe what you see. Include sketches as necessary.
What do you hear?
How long did your coil spin? What would make it stop?
Analysis and conclusions
Using your understanding of electricity and magnetism, explain in your own words what is happening in the circuit to make the coil spin.
What questions about electromagnetism do you have after today’s activity?