Electric Motors


electric_motorAfter learning the basics of creating a circuit and electromagnetics, students design and create a simple electric motor. Students are encouraged to explore coil design, magnetic array, changing power sources, power sources.

Rationale (Why we are doing this?)

When students apply skills and understanding in a tangible, “hands-on” way, learning is enhanced, higher thinking skills are developed, and learning is fun.


Teacher supplies:

  • Magnetic wire
  • Regular household wire
  • Sandpaper
  • Some tools
  • Electrician’s tape

Students supply:

  • A small cardboard box with a lid (shoebox size or smaller
  • 1 or 2 magnets of reasonable power (no fridge or horseshoe magnets) (Rona or Home Depot have excellent ones). I will show the students ones that work well.
  • 1 or 2 “C” batteries (non-rechargeable)
  • A pair of needlenose pliers are handy and are wire strippers (but not necessary). Please no multi-tools with a knife attachment.

Context and Background Knowledge

Student will have to have a basic safety lesson in how to use pliers, strip wire, and expectations. Remind students how to disconnect power is they get “hot spots”. A useful background knowledge builder is the Electricity sections of BC Science 6.


Curricular Connections (Competencies and Content)

Devices that transform energy (Science-4)
Energy: has various forms, is conserved (Science-4)
Power- the rate at which energy is transformed (Science-6)
Identify a design issue (ADST-5)
Identify key features or user requirements (ADST-5)
Identify the main objective for design and any constraints (ADST-5)
Electricity – generated in different ways with different environmental impacts (Science-7)
Electricity – used to generate magnetism (Science-7)

Design and Make the Motor

  1. Using a sample, students design their own motor (see sample or picture). It is useful to teach the names of the parts (coil, magnet array, posts, power source).
  2. Encourage students to test out variations on design (number of coils, setting up posts to reduce friction, improve balance). Encourage “guess and test,” prototyping skills, and testing multiple designs.


  • Provide students with switches, lights, small propellers, flags etc.
  • Students can even experiment with sanding one side of the coil contact to create the difference between