Electromagnetism Experiment

Cyber Physics
Type Category
Instructional Materials
Informative Text , Demonstration , Experiment/Lab Activity
This resource, vetted by NSTA curators, is provided to teachers along with suggested modifications to make it more in line with the vision of the NGSS. While not considered to be "fully aligned," the resources and expert recommendations provide teachers with concrete examples and expert guidance using the EQuIP rubric to adapted existing resources. Read more here.



This is a description of a student experiment that teachers can adapt to allow students to prove that electric current produces a magnetic field. The sample includes a specific example of how to do the experiment which can be adapted to an inquiry investigation by having students complete the initial experiment and then write their investigation question and further investigate the phenomena. When completing this as a demonstration or student experiment batteries can be substituted for the variable power supply if power supplies are not available or convenient to use. The voltage provided to the circuit can be easily manipulated by changing the number of batteries connected.

Intended Audience

Educational Level
  • High School
Access Restrictions

Free access - The right to view and/or download material without financial, registration, or excessive advertising barriers.

Performance Expectations

HS-PS2-5 Plan and conduct an investigation to provide evidence that an electric current can produce a magnetic field and that a changing magnetic field can produce an electric current.

Clarification Statement: none

Assessment Boundary: Assessment is limited to designing and conducting investigations with provided materials and tools.

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this performance expectation.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
The resource describes an experiment that can be presented to students as an inquiry investigation in which students investigate the relationship between the current through an electromagnet and the strength of the magnetic field that is produced and also the relationship between the number of turns of an electromagnet and the strength of an electromagnet. The resource contains photos of the experimental set-up and sample data to guide the teacher.

Science and Engineering Practices

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this science and engineering practice, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
The investigation described in the resource can be adapted by the students to answer an experimental question based on gathered data. The resource is intended as a reference for the teacher rather than a link for students.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
The lab described in the resource allows students to experience that forces act at a distance.

Crosscutting Concepts

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this crosscutting concept.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
By completing the lab activity that is described in the resource, students will see the cause effect relationship.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: The lab is aligned to the standards but additional questioning by the teacher will strengthen the alignment.

  • Instructional Supports: Guidance for completing the lab are included by no suggestions for how to present the problem to students are included. I suggest that the phenomena of electromagnetism be modeled for the students, and then students be guided in their investigation to quantify the relationship between the number of turns of wire on the nail and the strength of the electromagnet measured by how many paper clips can be lifted. Or the students can be guided to investigate the relationship between the amount of current through the electromagnet and the strength of an electromagnet as measured by the number of paper clips that can be picked up the electromagnet.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: No specific guidance for how to assess students is included in the resource. This laboratory investigation can be assessed with a formal or informal lab report that includes a description of the experimental approach, data table, analysis of that data in the form of a graph, and an explanation of what is happening citing references to the data.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: This is a website with photos, graphs, and information. It is not interactive.