Spinning Sculptures

Use the power of electromagnetism to create your own spinning sculpture! 

  1. Ages: 8 - 16

  2. 30 minutes - 1 hour

  3. A little messy

  4. Grownup needed

Step-by-step tutorial

  • Step 1

    Gather your materials.

    Photo reference of how to complete step 1

  • Step 2

    Stack your battery on top of your neodymium magnets with the flat side of the battery on the magnets.

    Photo reference of how to complete step 2

  • Step 3

    Cut a piece of magnet wire about 30 cm in length. Then bend the wire in half to make a “V.” Keeping the very bottom of the "V" in place, mold the wire into a rectangle. The sides should be about 5 cm. 


    Photo reference of how to complete step 3

  • Step 4

    Check to make sure the wire rectangle fits around the batter. You might need to adjust the the wire so that one end touches the magnets at the bottom. Cut the wire as needed!

    Photo reference of how to complete step 4

  • Step 5

    Balance the "V" in the wire on top of the battery and see if it spins! 

    Photo reference of how to complete step 5

  • Tip

    Getting the wire to balance can take a few tries—keep at it!

  • Step 6

    Show off your spinning sculptures!

    Photo reference of how to complete step 6

  • Step 7

    Decorate! Make decorations for your spinning sculpture. Symmetrical decorations work best.

    Photo reference of how to complete step 7

  • Warning

    Don’t forget to disconnect the wire. The battery and wire can get hot!


  • Photo reference of how to complete step 10

    Learn moreMagnifying graphic

    These spinning sculptures are an example of homopolar motors. Homopolar motors are a type of motor that is powered by something called a Lorentz Force.

    The Lorentz Force occurs when an electric force (the electricity running through the copper wire) meets a magnetic force (the magnets). The collision of these two forces causes your sculpture to spin!

    Watch this video to learn more. 

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