Electromagnet Crane Activity


Single SKU: 1824-71

10 Pack SKU: 1824-61

Your Mission: Design and build a crane that can best sort magnetic materials for recycling. Start by making and experimenting with an electromagnet, then create a crane to move it. Test the crane using the scientific method. Evolve the crane through the engineering design process. How many magnetic items can you sort in two minutes? Compete against other cranes, or challenge yourself in the Super Sort Engineering and Design Challenge.

Use found (recycling bin) materials to enhance your crane design or as sorting material for the Engineering & Design Challenge. Each activity provides plenty of extra parts to try different designs and continue to tinker. This activity is a real “pick me up.”

Electromagnet Crane Educational Goals

  • Utilize the design and engineering process
  • Encourage creativity, critical thinking and problem solving
  • Learn about electromagnetism, magnetic fields, and simple machines
  • Apply the scientific method
  • Innovate (design, build and evolve your own unique Crane design)

Electromagnet Activity Document Downloads

All the documents you need to help you where you are on your STEM journey. 

Start building and grow from there!

Get Started with the All-in-One Guide

This document has everything you need to do the Electromagnet Crane Activity. 

Electromagnet Crane All-in-One - PDF
Electromagnet Crane All-in-One - Editable Word Document

Students learn about magnet construction and how wire wraps improve the magnetic field.

Electromagnet Build Guide with a Lab - PDF
Electromagnet Build Guide with a Lab - Editable Word Document

This Build gives the understanding required to solve engineering challengers.

Crane Build for an Electromagnet - PDF
Crane Build for Electromagnet - Editable Word Document


Elevate your crane to the next level with these Engineer Challenges. 


Electromagnet 'In the Bucket' Challenge Thumbnail

Download the "In The Bucket" Challenge

Get as many paper clips into a cup as you can.

"In The Bucket" Challenge - PDF
"In The Bucket" Challenge - Editable Word Document




Electromagnet 'Clip Hanger' Challenge Thumbnail

Download the "Clip Hanger" Challenge

Hang as many paper clips as you can.

"Clip Hanger" Challenge - PDF
"Clip Hanger" Challenge - Editable Word Document




Electromagnet Engineering Challenge Thumbnail

Download the "Super Sort" Challenge

Sort as much magnetic and non-magnetic materials as you can in the "Super Sort" arena. Printable arenas available for Single Player or go head-to-head in the Two Player Arena.

"Super Sort" Challenge - PDF
"Super Sort" Challenge - Editable Word Document

"Super Sort" Arena - Single Player - PDF
"Super Sort" Arena - Two Player - PDF


Electromagnet For Fun Build Guide

Download the Challenge Scorecard

Use this simple scorecard to keep track of student progress and Points for Electromagnet Competitions.

Challenge Scorecard - PDF




Electromagnet For Fun Build Guide

Download the TeacherGeek Engineering Notebook

Available at two different learning levels, the TeacherGeek Engineering Notebook is designed to help students cycle thru the Design & Engineering Process and help them innovate and invent new designs. Use an Engineering Notebook page for each iteration of design. It is recommended that extra pages




Electromagnet Overview Thumbnail


Download the Overview

Brief overview about the TeacherGeek Electromagnet documents, activity procedure, concepts, vocabulary, background information, and supplementary resources.

Electromagnet Overview - Editable Word Document



Other Useful Resources:

Youtube Videos:



Process Description

Recommended Tool

Alternate Tool


Cutting dowels, strips, recycling bin items, etc.


Saw, Pruning Shears


Change splined holes in components from press fit (dowels press and stay) to loose fit (dowels are able to slide and rotate).


#3 Drill Bit and Drill


Tighten and loosen screws



Holding and Pulling

Hold nuts, pull apart components



Wire Stripping Strip (remove) wire insulation

Wire Stripper


Sets of tools can be found here.

Additional Supplies Needed to Build an Electromagnet Crane: This activity requires AA batteries, tape, scissors, magnetic and non-magnetic materials (paperclips, binder clips, erasers, etc.).

Make your Electromagnet Crane even better by incorporating recycling bin material.

Electromagnet Crane Components

What's in the Electromagnet Crane Activity?

Component: 10pk Quantity: Single Quantity:
Hole Plate(s) 10 1
Perpendicular Blocks 40 4
1" Screws 60 6
2" Screw(s) 10 1
Hex Nuts 40 4
Dowels 20 2
Connector Strips 40 4
3in Slide Stop 10 1
Wire Roll 10 1
#6 1/4in Screws 20 2
Battery Holder (2 AA)
w/ Switch & Leads
10 1

This is an educational product and not a toy. It is intended for use by ages 9 and above with adult supervision.

Science, Math & Engineering Standards

TeacherGeek products fit proposals, grants or lesson plans with ease! Explore more resources below:

Next Generation Science Standards
NGSS Standards Download - PDF
NGSS Standards Spreadsheet - Editable /Searchable Excel Sheet

International Technology & Engineering Educators' Association Standards
ITEEA Standards Download - PDF
ITEEA Standards Spreadsheet - Editable/Searchable Excel Sheet