Investigating the Strength of the Magnetic Field within a Coil of Wire

Vernier Software and Technology
Type Category
Instructional Materials
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 lab procedure during which the student investigates the strength of a magnetic field within a coil of wire using a magnetic field probe. Students will investigate how the magnetic field strength depends on the current in the wire as well as the number of coils in the wire.

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
More of the performance expectation can be covered if the teacher lets the students choose their own question to investigate related to the relationship between electricity and magnetism, and also asks them to investigate the reverse relationship.

Science and Engineering Practices

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this science and engineering practice.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
Students are analyzing data they collect to draw conclusions about the relationship between electrical current and magnetic field. A lot of the analysis involves plotting data and finding the equation of the best-fitting line as well as explaining the significance of constants in their equations.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

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

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
This relationship is investigated directly by the student in the lab.

Crosscutting Concepts

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

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
The student is looking for patterns in magnetic field produced by a coil of wire. 

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: The activity directly supports part of the performance expectation, the teacher can easily modify the activity described to make it less directed and to add the investigation of the relationship between a changing magnetic field and an electric current.

  • Instructional Supports: The investigation has very clear and lengthy instructions for the students as to what they should investigate and how they should measure it. However, it really doesn't provide background knowledge or information about the topic. The instructor will need to provide the students with that background knowledge.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: Some mention of student monitoring is included in the description of the lab but additional assessment should be included in the form of conceptual and quantitative questions for the students to discuss with each other and write as a reflection on the lab.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: Probeware and computers are used so learners can see the effect of altering the physical apparatus on the strength of the magnetic field.