Vernier Software and Technology
Vernier Software & Technology

Magnetic Field of a Current

Figure from experiment 23 from Physics Explorations and Projects


The goal of this activity is for students to explore the magnetic field strength of a long, straight current-carrying wire. Students may relate current and field, or they may relate distance and field for a constant current.

In the Preliminary Observation, students observe a compass needle in the presence and absence of current in a wire. During the subsequent inquiry process, students will investigate the mathematical relationship between the magnetic field strength and either the distance from the wire or the current.

The magnetic field strength can be measured using a magnetic field sensor or with a magnetic compass and ruler.

Learning Outcomes

  • Identify variables, design and perform the investigations, collect data, analyze data, draw a conclusion, and formulate a model based on data from the investigation
  • Create graphical representations of magnetic field in the vicinity of a current-carrying wire
  • Create a mathematical model of magnetic field strength with respect to distance from a long, straight, current-carrying wire

Sensors and Equipment

This experiment features the following Vernier sensors and equipment.

Option 1

Option 2

Additional Requirements

You may also need an interface and software for data collection. What do I need for data collection?

Next Generation Science Standards

Disciplinary Core Ideas

  • PS2.B Types of Interactions
  • PS3.A Definitions of Energy
  • PS3.C Relationship Between Energy and Forces

Crosscutting Concepts

  • Patterns
  • Cause and Effect
  • Systems and System Models
  • Energy and Matter

Science and Engineering Practices

  • Developing and Using Models
  • Planning and Carrying Out Investigations
  • Analyzing and Interpreting Data
  • Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking
  • Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions
  • Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information

Physics Explorations and Projects

See other experiments from the lab book.

1Constant Motion and Changing Motion
2Balanced Forces and Unbalanced Forces
3Gravitation on Earth
4Newton’s Second Law
5Projectile Challenge
6Impulse and Momentum
7Equilibrium of Forces
8Circular Motion
9Conservation of Momentum
10Egg Protection Challenge
11Springs Making Things Move
12Kinetic Energy and Mass
13Work and Kinetic Energy
14Work Done by Gravity
15Energy in Collisions
16Rube Goldberg Machine
17Charge and Charge Models
18Coulomb's Law
19Measuring Electric Current
20Conservation of Charge
21Voltage in a Circuit
22Battery Challenge
23Magnetic Field of a Current
24Current from a Changing Field
25Generating Electricity
27Wave Speed on a String
28Speed of Sound
29Interference and Diffraction
30Sound and Loudness
31Wave Communication Challenge
32Energy Storage in Capacitors
34Heat as Energy Transfer
35Solar Cells
36Rube Goldberg Machine Revisited

Experiment 23 from Physics Explorations and Projects Lab Book

<i>Physics Explorations and Projects</i> book cover

Included in the Lab Book

Vernier lab books include word-processing files of the student instructions, essential teacher information, suggested answers, sample data and graphs, and more.

Buy the Book

Go to top