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

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.

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