Tammie has taught elementary school for 14 yrs. and holds an MA in Instructional Technology
It's a super plane, no it's a speeding car, no it's a. . . floating train. What? You read that right, it is known as a maglev train and it can go at speeds of over 250 miles per hour as it floats above the track, never touching the rails while in motion! How is this amazing feat possible? Through the use of powerful electromagnets.
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- 0:04 Floating Trains
- 0:29 Making Electromagnets
- 1:16 Make the Magnet Stronger
- 2:07 Electromagnets are Everywhere
- 3:22 Lesson Summary
An electromagnet is a magnet that uses electricity to power it. What's so cool about this type of magnet is that you can turn the magnet on and off! To learn how this is possible, let's take a look at how these magnets are made. It's actually a very simple process, but to understand it you have to remember that magnets are pieces of metal, like iron, that have the ability to attract other metals.
First, a piece of iron, such as a rod of iron or even a nail, is wrapped in a strand of copper wire. Then, using a battery or other device, electricity is run through the copper wire and, guess what? You have an electromagnet! The electricity running through the wire magnetizes the iron bar, which means that it makes it attract other metals.
Make the Magnet Stronger
Remember, what makes an electromagnet so different from regular magnets is that you can shut off the electromagnet. Stop the electric current running through the copper wire and you've just got a chunk of iron with no magnetic properties. If we can turn the magnet off and on, can we also make it stronger or weaker?
There are two main ways that the strength of an electromagnet can be changed. One way is to simply increase the amount of electricity running through the wire. Doing this will make the electric current stronger, hence making the magnet stronger. A second way is to wrap the copper wire even tighter around the iron, making less space between the coils and therefore more turns around the iron. This will increase the amount of electricity running over the iron and make the magnetic power stronger.
Electromagnets Are Everywhere
Electromagnets are everywhere, and they're also what allows maglev trains to float above the rail. The rails that the train floats above are magnetized using electromagnets and the bottom of the train is equipped with large magnets. You would think that by magnetizing the rail and sticking large magnets underneath the train that the two would stick together. However, remember two magnets can either attract or repel each other, depending on how the magnets are placed. By setting up the magnets to repel each other, they keep the train floating above the track. And by controlling the amount of electricity running into the rail, they can control the placement and movement of the train. Wow! Electromagnets have great power.
Electromagnets can be found in many other things, too. You can find them even in your own house!
- Toasters use electromagnets to provide heat and to tell the toaster when to pop up the bread.
- Blenders, drills, and even generators use electromagnets to help power the motors.
- Electromagnetic door locks are used to keep doors secure. The doors are kept locked using an electromagnet and a metal plate, until someone pushes a button to stop the electrical current, and then the door can be opened.
Magnets are pieces of metal that can attract other pieces of metal. Electromagnets, or magnets powered using electricity, can be found almost everywhere. Most electromagnets consist of an iron core that's wrapped in copper wire and then magnetized, made to attract other metals, using an electric current. You can change the strength of the magnetic field or even shut it off altogether by controlling the current or the tightness of the coiled wire.
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Electromagnets Lesson for Kids: Definition, Facts & Uses
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