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Exploring Magnetism

Experiment #2 from Earth Science with Vernier


Magnetism is a property of matter that results in a force of attraction or repulsion between materials with magnetic properties. Not all materials have magnetic properties. When a material does have magnetic properties, we say it can be magnetized, and magnetized objects are called magnets. Magnets attract most materials containing unmagnetized iron, nickel, or cobalt.

All magnets, no matter what their shape, have at least two regions called the north and south poles. The north pole of the magnet is the one that points north when the magnet is suspended in the air and can rotate freely, such as when suspended from a string.

When the poles of two magnets come together, the poles will either be attracted to each other (draw closer together) or repel each other (push apart from each other). The forces of attraction and repulsion are present because of the magnetic field that completely surrounds the magnet. Magnetic fields are represented by field lines that show the strength and direction of the field. Magnetic field lines are drawn as concentrated near the poles of the magnet because the magnetic field is stronger near the poles than along the sides of the magnet.

The strength of the magnetic field can be measured using a magnetic field sensor. Magnetic fields also have direction, so the strength can be given as a positive or negative value. The magnetic field extends outward from the north pole of a magnet and into the south pole of a magnet.

In Part I of this experiment, you will determine how the magnetic field sensor reads the magnetic field strength and direction for the poles of a bar magnet. In Part II of this experiment you will investigate the relationship between the orientation of the magnetic field sensor and the strength of a magnetic field.


In this experiment, you will

  • Investigate the response of a magnetic field sensor in the presence of a magnet under various conditions.
  • Investigate the relationship between the orientation of the sensor and the strength of the magnetic field.

Sensors and Equipment

This experiment features the following sensors and equipment. Additional equipment may be required.

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This experiment is #2 of Earth Science with Vernier. The experiment in the book includes student instructions as well as instructor information for set up, helpful hints, and sample graphs and data.

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Earth Science with Vernier