Oersted’s Experiment with Electromagnetism

Grades 6th-8th

NGSS MS-PS2-3. Ask questions about data to determine the factors that affect the strength of electric and magnetic forces.

Topic: Electromagnetism

Objective: After this lesson students will be able to:

  • Explain the connection between electricity and magnetism
  • Recreate Oersted’s Experiment
  • Build an electromagnet
  • Explain how to make an electromagnet stronger


Lesson Introduction: Oersted’s Experiment (~20 minutes)

Begin by having students read the short introduction (“Oersted’s Experiment of Electromagnetism”) and click on the link to watch video Clip #1 that demonstrates Oersted’s experiment with electromagnetism.

Recreate Oersted’s Experiment: (~15-20 minutes)

With just a few materials, students will recreate Oersted’s experiment (on Worksheet 1) to have a better understanding of the connection between electricity and magnetism. Click on the link to view Clip #2, which is the instruction video.

On Worksheet 1, have students answer the Oersted’s Experiment Questions. They can use both video clips (Clips #1 & 2) and their own version of Oersted’s experiment for help.

Lesson Activity: (~15 minutes)

Students will follow the instruction sheet to make their own electromagnet.

Post Activity Questions: (~15-20 minutes)

After students build their electromagnet, have students answer the questions and fill out the data collection chart (on Worksheet 3) and indicate the number of coils on their nail and how many paper clips they were able to pick up.

After filling out the chart, students will look back on their data, and answer the Review Your Data questions (on Worksheet 3), to analyze the data collected.

Student Learning Goal:

By the end of the lesson students will be able to build, experiment, and test the strength of their own electromagnet and be able to explain electromagnetism.