In this unit, we will explore the forces of magnetism and static electricity. We will engage in many activities to discover characteristics of magnets are and how they are able to attract certain materials. We will also lean how electrons can build up on a substance to create a static electric charge.
In this lesson we will be looking at the three defining characteristics of a magnet. First, all magnets will exert a pulling force on ferromagnetic materials: objects made of iron, nickel, or cobalt. Second, all magnets produce a magnetic field. Last, all magnets have the ability to attract or repel other magnets. We also address common misconceptions about magnets.
In lesson 2, we will explore the first property of magnets – their ability to attract ferromagnetic substances. A ferromagnetic substance is simply a substance that be attracted to, or pulled by, a magnet. Any object containing one or more of these elements will, to an extent, be pulled on by a magnet.
In our third lesson we will be learning about magnetic fields – the invisible lines of force that surround a magnet. When a magnet attracts a ferromagnetic object, it is because of the force of its magnetic field. We will see what causes magnetic fields and how we can observe their shape and strength.
Lesson 4 examines the interaction of magnetic fields with other magnets. When opposite poles of two magnets are placed next to one another, the magnets will attract; but when like poles are placed near one another, the magnets will repel.
In lesson 5, we will be learning how electrical current can be used to create a temporary magnet called an electromagnet. As electricity flows through a coil of wire around a ferromagnetic material, it will create a magnetic domain in the ferromagnetic material. The amount of current present and the tightness of the coiled wire affect the strength of the electromagnet.
In this lab activity we make a simple electromagnet using a battery, copper wire, and an iron nail. As electricity flows through the wire, we create a temporary magnet that can be used to pick up paper clips.
Electricity is the result of negatively-charged subatomic particles called electrons. When these electrons flow through a conductive material it creates electrical current. Sometimes, however, these electrons can build up on an object creating a charge of static electricity. This static charge can act similarly to a magnet attracting or repelling other charged objects.
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