Experiments in electromagnetism

Experiments in electromagnetism

I can explain how electricity and magnetism can influence one another.

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Experiments in electromagnetism

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In this lesson, students will learn how electricity can ben generated from magnets and how magnetism can be generated from electricity. They will learn several examples of how we can view electromagnetism in real life. Students will also investigate how changing the properties of electricity can affect the properties of magnetism (and visa versa).



Learning objective

Students will be able to explain how electricity and magnetism can influence one another.


Students will fill out a Venn Diagram about magnetism and electricity.


Students will be introduced to the definition of electromagnetism. They will do a couple of experiments (materials listed below).

Experiment One: Magnetism from Electricity
This experiment involves observing what happens when a nail is placed next to a compass. After discussing that, students will then cut copper wire and wrap it around the nail. They will connect the wire to a battery and place the nail next to the compass again.

Experiment Two: Electricity from Magnetism
In this experiment, students will coil the copper wire and connect it to an ammeter. They will then do this experiment again with a magnet. Students will record their observations and answer some questions about the experiment.


Students will complete an exit ticket by recalling the definition of electromagnetism and describing how electricity can create magnetic fields.

Teaching tips

You can find the link to teaching tips for this lesson on the title slide as well as below.

Slide 7:
1. Do you notice any movement in the compass?
- The compass should not move.
2. What do you think this tells us about the nail?
- This tells us that the nail is not magnetized and is not generating a magnetic field.

Slide 8:
1. What does the compass tell you about the nail wrapped in wire?
- The battery and coils are causing the nail to become magnetized and produce a magnetic field. This magnetic field moves the compass.

Slide 9:
1. What happened when you touched the nail to the paper clips? Why did this happen?
- The nail should pick up a few paper clips. This happens because the nail is magnetized by the electric current in the wires.
2. How many paper clips were you able to pick up? Did this number change after you wrapped the nail 15 more times?
- Answers may vary. When the nail is wrapped 15 more times, the number of paper clips should increase due to the strengthened magnetic field.
3. What would happen if you wrapped the wire only 5 times? What is the relationship between the number of coils and paper clips?
- The number of paper clips the nail is able to pick-up will be less than the original amount. The more coils, the stronger the magnetic force/field. The fewer coils, the weaker the magnetic force/field.

Slide 12:
- 1) When you connect the coils to the ammeter, what does the ammeter read? The ammeter should read 0.
2) What does this tell us about the electric current?
- That there is no electric current present.

Slide 13:
1. What happened to the ammeter when the magnet passed through the coils?
- The ammeter should jump up as the magnet passes through the coil.
2. What does this tell us about the relationship between magnetism and electricity?
- That a magnet moving through a coil will create an electric current.
3. What happens when the bar is placed inside the coils? Hypothesize why this might happen.
- The current will jump up when the bar is moving but return to zero as the bar rests inside the coil. This is because a current is only generated when the magnetic field is changing (moving).
4. What happens when you change the speed of the magnet?
- The faster the magnet moves through the coil, the more current is produced. The slower the movement, the less current is produced.

Instruction materials

For Experiment One: Magnetism from Electricity, you will need:
- 1 D battery
- paper clips
- insulated copper wire
- long iron nail (2+ inches)
- compass

For Experiment Two: Electricity from Magnetism, you will need:
- ammeter
- copper wire (several feet, coiled if possible)
- bar magnet

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