Linking electrical current to magnetism
Physics Narrative for 11-14
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
- Everyone knows that compass needles are
- Switch on the electric current and the compass needle moves.
- You have witnessed, at first hand, the link between electricity and magnetism!