It’s Time For The Science Fair: Get Started With These Instructions For A Small Electric Motor

It's time for the science fair. If you want to participate but you're not sure what to make, you might want to think about an electric motor. With just a few supplies, you can make a miniature motor that is fully operational. In fact, it's so easy to make, that you should be able to make it by yourself. You might need your parents to cut the copper wire for you. Here are some easy-to-follow instructions for building your own electric motor.

Gather Your Supplies

Before you get started building your motor, you're going to need to gather the necessary supplies.

Supplies You'll Need

  • Empty toilet paper roll

  • One spool of copper wire

  • Wire cutters

  • Sand paper

  • Thumb tack

  • Plastic cup

  • Two magnets

  • Electrical tape

  • AA battery

Build Your Motor

Now that you have all of your supplies gathered, you're ready to get started on your motor. Be sure you have a clean work space. This will allow you to set up all of your equipment.

Make the Coil

The first thing you need to do is make the magnetic coil. The coil is the part of the motor that will move once it's operational. To create the coil, you'll need to use your wire cutters to cut about 18" of copper wire off the spool. Place your fingers about 4" down the wire and begin wrapping the rest of the wire around the toilet paper tube.

Be sure to wrap it around about 10 times. Hold the wire so that there is an end on two opposite sides of the tube. Cut the wire on both ends so there's only about an inch left on each end. Carefully slide the coil off the tube and wrap a small piece of electrical tape around the coil to keep it from unraveling.

Make the Motor Base

The base of the motor is the part that will hold all the components. You'll make the base out of your plastic cup. Take your thumb tack and make four holes in the cup. Make your first hole about ½" from the top. Make the second hole about ½" from the bottom on the same side. Make two more holes, at similar measurements, on the opposite side. Turn your cup upside down and place one of your magnets on the closed end. Reach inside and place the other magnet directly under the other magnet. The magnetism will hold them together.

Position the Lead Wires

You're going to need two 12" pieces of copper wire to create the leads. The lead wires are going to attach to the coil and the battery power. Take the first piece of wire and feed it through two of the side holes you created.

Start from the outside and feed the wire through the bottom hole to the inside. Next, feed the wire through the top hole.  Repeat the process on the other side of the cup. Be sure you have equal amounts of wire sticking out of the top and bottom of the cup on each side.  Put the cup on a flat surface with the opening facing down.

Position the top wires so that they're pointing straight up. Use your sand paper to sand the ends of the wire. This will allow for proper electrical current when you run the motor. Bend the ends of the top wires to form a hook. This is where the coil will rest.

Connect the Battery

Now it's time to attach the coil and connect the battery. Carefully hold the coil in your hand and straighten out the two loose ends. Place the coil directly between the two hooks at the top of the cup. Set the coil down so that the two straight ends rest on the hooks.

Place the battery between the two wires at the bottom of the cup. Use your electrical tape to secure the wires to the ends of the battery. As soon as the battery is connected to the wires, the coil should start spinning. You now have a working electric motor.

You can learn about the world around you by participating in science fairs. This easy-to-make electric motor will allow you to get hands on experience with small motors. Be sure to talk to your parents before you start building your motor. For more information about how motors work, contact a professional like those Hackworth Electric Motors Inc