Electric Generator Science Project

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  • 0:04 Introduction to the Experiment
  • 1:22 Materials
  • 1:45 Steps to the Experiment
  • 3:33 How It Works
  • 4:05 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Amanda Robb

Amanda holds a Masters in Science from Tufts Medical School in Cellular and Molecular Physiology. She has taught high school Biology and Physics for 8 years.

In this science project, you will be creating your own electric generator. Using cardboard, a nail, wire, and magnets you'll be able to recreate the process of generating electricity for your home and light a small light bulb.

Introduction to the Experiment

Here's our basic information that we need for creating this electric generator for a science project:

Goal: Create an electric generator that can light a small light bulb
Age: Middle school and up
Safety concerns: An awl can be sharp, get an adult to help you. Hot glue can burn you; be careful not to get any on your skin. Neodymium magnets are very strong. Keep them away from electronics.
Time: 2 hours

All of us love electricity. From charging our phones to watching the latest news story unfold, electricity is an integral part of our daily lives. However, have you ever thought about how electricity gets to your house? We all know it comes from a power plant, but how do you actually 'make' electricity? Power plants contain huge generators, or turbines, that convert mechanical energy, or the sum of potential and kinetic energy, into electrical energy, or the energy between charged particles.

A popular topic today is how to use renewable energy sources, like wind, water, or solar energy to make electricity for our homes. Wind and water plants use mechanical energy generated by wind or falling water to spin their turbines. The turbines spin large coils of wire around a magnet, which creates electricity.

Today, we're going to build our own miniature electric generator, just like the ones in a power plant. Although we won't be able to power an entire city using our generator, we will be able to light a small light bulb.

Materials

  • A piece of cardboard 3'' wide by 12'' long
  • Hot glue
  • One neodymium magnet smaller than the constructed cardboard housing
  • 200 feet of 30 gauge enamel coated copper wire
  • One 1.5 volt light bulb
  • Light bulb holder (this is optional)
  • Alligator clips (this is also optional)
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Awl or other device to puncture the cardboard

Steps to the Experiment

1. Start by measuring the cardboard to create a box. Mark off 3.1'', then make another mark at 4.5'', 7.7'', and finally 8.9''.

2. Now, fold the cardboard along the marks you just made to construct a box.

  • Here's a quick safety tip: hot glue is very hot; be careful not to get any on your skin.

Now, back to the steps:

3. Glue the box shut using the hot glue gun at the overlapping edges.

  • Here's another safety tip: An awl is very sharp; get an adult to help you with this step.

Back to the steps:

4. Next, puncture a hole in the center of the long side of the box on both sides using the awl.

5. Now, slide the nail through the hole.

  • Here's another safety tip: neodymium magnets are very strong; keep them away from all electronics!

Now, back to the steps again:

6. Using the hot glue, attach the magnet to the nail. Make sure there's enough room for the magnet to rotate freely, yet fit as snuggly as possible into the box.

7. Next, wrap the wire around the outside of the box covering the cardboard. Leave about 5'' on either end of the wire to attach it to the light bulb.

8. Now, place your light bulb in the light bulb holder (if you are using it) and secure the wire to the holder using the alligator clips; and finally

9. Now, it's time to use your generator! Spin the nail as fast as you can and watch your light bulb light up.

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