Electricity and Magnetism

Linking electrical current to magnetism

Physics Narrative for 11-14 Supporting Physics Teaching

Current moving magnets

The connection between electric currents and magnetic fields was first demonstrated in 1820 by a Danish scientist named Hans Christian Oersted. Oersted showed that a compass needle (a small pivoted magnet) moves whenever an electric current passes through a nearby wire.

This simple demonstration can be replicated in the classroom to great effect, making the link from electricity to magnetism:

  • Everyone knows that wires connected to batteries are about electricity.
  • Everyone knows that compass needles are about magnetism.
  • Switch on the electric current and the compass needle moves.
  • You have witnessed, at first hand, the link between electricity and magnetism!

can be analysed using Magnetic Field
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