Science Experiment: Dancing Magnet Motor
Whether you’re interested in science, art, dancing, or a combination of all three, you’ll love this science experiment. With powerful magnets and copper wire, you can upcycle a battery while also learning about homopolar motors and the Lorentz force. Get started!
- 10-12” piece of copper wire
- Small neodymium disc magnets
- One AA battery
- Wire cutters or pliers to bend the wire
- First, place 3 disc magnets on the negative side of your battery. You can experiment with different sizes and strengths of magnets to see how it affects the speed of the motor. Stand the battery up using the rare earth magnets as a base.
- Next, take your copper wire and twist it into the shape of your dancer. You can use your pliers to bend the wire. Only use about half of the length of wire for the top of your dancer. You can shape the wire into a ballerina or similar shape just try to make it as symmetrical as possible.
- Now, use the second half of the wire to stretch the length of the battery and twist it so the bottom of the wire is coiled loosely around the magnets.
When you’re done, the copper wire should interact with the magnets and the battery like a motor. Your dancer should then spin around and around at the top of the motor. This “dancing” occurs because of the Lorentz force. In this experiment the electric current of the battery is perpendicular to the magnetic flux of the magnets, which results in the rotation of the dancer. The rotation of the dancer is a fun way to demonstrate the Lorentz force.
You can add colorful paper to your dancer and make it look like it has a skirt similar to the Tiny Dancers in this STEAM experiment. You can also turn your DIY homopolar motor into a romantic gesture. All you have to do is twist the copper wire into a heart instead of a dancer like in this Dancing Heart Project.
What other creative sculptures can you make dance with these magnetic motors?