The Effect of a Magnetic Field on Moving Charges: Physics Lab

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  • 0:05 Magnetic Fields and…
  • 0:34 Physics Lab Materials…
  • 1:31 Data Analysis
  • 2:29 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: David Wood

David has taught Honors Physics, AP Physics, IB Physics and general science courses. He has a Masters in Education, and a Bachelors in Physics.

After completing this lab, you will be able to explain the effect of a magnetic field on moving charges, and demonstrate it using circuits and magnets. A short quiz will follow.

Magnetic Fields and Moving Charges

A magnetic field is an area around a magnet or moving charge where other objects can be affected by it. Moving charges are in fact the source of magnetic fields, whether charges moving deep inside a bar magnet or the magnetic field created by a current-carrying wire.

But did you know that moving charges are also affected by external magnetic fields? When you send a charge through a field created by something else, it will feel a force.

In today's lab, we're going to investigate this force using magnets and circuits.

Physics Lab Steps

To complete this lab, you will need:

  • A wire
  • A large battery - C-type works well. Having several will increase your chance of success.
  • A switch
  • A large horseshoe magnet

Step 1: Connect the battery, wires and switch in a complete loop (a complete circuit). Move the switch to the 'off' position.

Step 2: Position the wire so that is moves between the poles of the magnet. It should be pointing at 90 degrees to a line between the poles.

Step 3: Switch the circuit on, and watch the wire. Note down your observations.

Step 4: Do the same thing with the wire pointed parallel to a line between the poles.

Note: After a while of being connected, the battery will become drained. This is because there is nothing in the circuit like a bulb or other device, so the electrons are moving around it rapidly, using up the battery. If this happens and you want to continue observing, connect a fresh battery.

If you haven't already, now is the time to pause the video and complete the lab. Good luck!

Data Analysis

Once you've finished, it's time to analyze the observational data you've collected. You probably noticed that the wire moved when you turned on the 90 degree circuit. This is because the wire contains charges moving inside it, and moving charges feel a force when placed inside a magnetic field.

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