Have you ever wondered how magnets work? The explanation of this phenomenon eluded scientists for a very long time, and was not solved until the mid-19th century. Today, we learned about the relationship between electricity and magnetism and found that moving electric charges create a magnetic field, or space where the effects can be felt by other magnets.
After discussing magnets, the differences between permanent magnets and electromagnets, and how magnetic fields are created, students built their own electromagnets of varying strengths to pick up paperclips. Students worked in groups to make electromagnets using a battery, a resistor, a wire, and a nail. Students investigated how the number of wire coils around the nail affected the strength of their electromagnet. We learned that the more times you coil the wire around the nail, the stronger the magnet became – your student should be able to tell you why this is. (Hint: It has to do with the relationship between electricity and magnetism!)
Try this at home! If you have a sewing needle and a relatively strong magnet, try to align the crystal domains (mini-magnets) of the sewing needle by stroking it with the magnet repeatedly in one direction. Then see if the needle exhibits any magnetic behavior (repelling or attracting other magnetic materials objects.) http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/find-magnetic-north-with-compass-bring-science-home/