Electricity and Magnetism

(Electro)Magnetism

Have you ever wondered how magnets work? The explanation of this phenomenon eluded scientists for a very long time, and was not solved until the mid-19th century.  Today, we learned about the relationship between electricity and magnetism and found that moving electric charges create a magnetic field, or space where the effects can be felt by other magnets.

After discussing magnets, how magnetic fields are created and an electromagnet’s cores and coils, students built their own electromagnets of varying strengths to pick up paperclips. Students worked in groups to make electromagnets using a battery, a resistor, a wire, and a nail.  Students investigated how the number of wire coils around the nail affected the strength of their electromagnet.  We learned that the more times you coil the wire around the nail, the stronger the magnet became – your student should be able to tell you why this is. (Hint: It has to do with the relationship between electricity and magnetism!)

    2014-11-03 11.14.47 

Additional Information:

Try this at home!  If you have a sewing needle and a relatively strong magnet, try to align the crystal domains (mini-magnets) of the sewing needle by stroking it with the magnet repeatedly in one direction. Then see if the needle exhibits any magnetic behavior (repelling or attracting other magnetic materials objects.)  http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/find-magnetic-north-with-compass-bring-science-home/

Author

Dr. Maureen Griffin

Maureen earned a Ph.D. in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania in 2003. While at Penn, she developed a novel micro-mechanical technique called micropipette peeling to investigate the role of muscle cell adhesion in normal and diseased skeletal muscle cells. After graduating, Maureen worked full time as a post-doctoral researcher and then a staff scientist a SelectX Pharmaceuticals. She joined the teaching staff in 2008 and was excited to be made an executive staff member in 2009. Maureen also continued to consult part time for SelectX until her daughter's birth in 2009; now she is focused on Science from Scientists and, of course, her children. Maureen uses her spare time to read, blog, cook, and renovate her house.

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