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Electricity's Effect on Magnetism Activity

By Kathy Foust

Can electricity have an effect on magnetism? Try this fun science experiment to find out the details!

Physics and Electricity

Have you been looking for ways to make physics fun? This magnetic physics project will entertain as well as educate young learners. This experiment will give students a glimpse into how physics works with magnets and electricity. To complete this magnetic physics project, you will need the materials listed below.

  • One "AA" or 1.5 volt battery
  • One piece of insulated copper wire with each end stripped so the wire is showing.
  • One small compass.

This experiment will test to see if an electrical current has an impact on the functioning of the compass. To test this theory follow the instructions below.

  1. Place the compass on a flat surface pointing north. Make sure to name any students involved in the experiment who the compass is pointing to in the "N" direction.
  2. Attach either end of the wire to either end of the battery.
  3. Lay the middle of the wire across the compass so that the wire is in the middle of the compass parallel with the east and west marks.
  4. Note any changes to the compass. Pick the wire up and set it back down on top of the compass. Did the compass point north when the wire was laying on it? Did the compass point north when you picked the wire up off of it?

Discuss the impact of electricity on the compass. Touch on the points listed below.

  • Are students aware that the compass works based on magnetism?
  • What does this mean for magnetism and electricity?
  • Can students think of any other ways that electricity impacts magnets?
  • Can students think of any ways that the impact of electricity on magnets could be used for useful purposes?
  • If no students mention it, bring up energy by electromagnetism as a potential form of energy.
  • Be sure to discuss with students that it is small experiments like this that lead to larger ones and thus lead to new inventions.