The Linear Generator Invention Kit

If the armature of a solenoid is replaced with a magnet, the magnetic can be moved in both directions by reversing the direction of the current. Reversing the direction of the current reverses the north and south poles of the electromagnet. This, in turn, moves the permanent magnet back and forth in the tube of the solenoid to create a motor. Because the magnet moves back and forth in a straight line, it is called a linear motor. A rotary motor that moves in a circle will be introduced in a later invention kit.

Teacher Guide

The teacher package contains lesson plan documents to guide teachers through each kit and activity. In addition, everything required for constructing the invention kits is contain in this downloadable package. This includes materials, sourcing, tools, and CAD files for fabrication.

Download Teacher Guide Online Sourcing Guide

Prior Knowledge

Science Content

The Linear Generator Invention Kit is scaffolded all the way down to the fundamentals of magnetism: polarity, attraction, and repulsion. Students should understand the basic functionality of a battery and common uses of electricity. Students should also be prepared to make qualitative and quantitative observations in a laboratory activity format.

Engineering Skills

This unit serves as an introduction to the engineering design process and utilizing digital fabrication tools. Prior to starting this unit, it will be useful for students to understand how to use 2D design software (MakerStudio by FableVision or Silhouette Studio) and operate a Silhouette Die Cutter. The technology skills in this unit can be taught in situ as students work through the laboratory activities and Design Challenge.

Time Allotment

Failure is an important part of the engineering design process. Therefore, it is important to allocate appropriate class time to allow students to brainstorm multiple solutions, design an optimal solution, and revise their strategy/design as they progress through the engineering and fabrication process.

For an engineering-only elective with 45 minute class periods, the following time allotment is suggested. This time allotment varies based on school scheduling, pedagogical style, and technology/resource availability.

Unit Breakdown Time Allotted
Lab Activities 1-5 7 class periods
Proposal for Design Challenge 1 class period
Design Challenge 5 class periods
Presentations 1-2 class periods

Essential Questions

How can scientific knowledge of electromagnetism be applied to create controlled motion?

How do constraints impact the design process?

Why is planning important in the engineering design process?

Key Concepts & Skills


  • Conductors & Insulators
  • Magnetism
  • Electricity
  • Electromagnetism


  • Soldering
  • Making qualitative observations
  • 2D Design (MakerStudio by FableVision or Silhouette Studio)
  • Fabrication on Silhouette Die Cutter