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
IOP DOMAINS Physics CPD programme

Electricity CPD videos

Our new set of videos gives teachers and coaches of physics a preview of the training we offer ahead of this term's live support sessions.

Find out more