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# Cool Your School – Electricity Lab

Magnet, Coil, and Meter: Generating Electricity

Outcomes:
1. Understand that electricity is not a source of energy, but a means of transporting energy. 2. Understand that electrical current is generated by a changing magnetic field in a coil of electrically conducting wire. 3. Understand the difference between direct current (DC) and alternating current (AC).

Chabot Space & Science Center

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How does the electrical current behave when the magnet is repeatedly moved up and down the coil? Questions: 1. what is the source of the energy of the electrical current you are generating? 2. in one direction. Do you know what they stand for? 5. What were the strength and polarity of the current this time? 3. Slide the magnet up and down repeatedly through the wire coil. How is the strength of electrical current affected by the speed that you move the magnet through the wire coil? 3. In this experiment. not bare metal. positive or negative? 2. In this experiment. You have probably heard of “AC” and “DC” electricity. Slide the magnet in the other direction through the wire coil. Slide the magnet through the wire coil. What was the maximum current generated? What direction did the current flow? (Did the ammeter show a positive or a negative current?) In other words. and use an ammeter to observe the strength and sign (positive or negative) of the electrical current produced. Is there any difference in the behavior of the electrical current when you move the wire coil instead of the magnet? 4. build your own electric generator: Chabot Space & Science Center 2 | Page . did you generate AC or DC electricity? Further Experimentation: With some spare wire and a toilet paper role. what was the polarity of the current.Cool Your School – Electricity Lab Materials:    Strong magnet (that will fit inside the wire coil tube) Coil of electrical wire wrapped around a tube (the wire must be insulated. coated “magnet wire” works very well) Multimeter or ammeter to measure electrical current What To Do: 1.

What do you think is happening? What’s Going On? Moving a magnet through a coil of wire--or moving a coil of wire by a magnet--induces electrical current in the wire. which consist of huge magnets and coils of electrical wire. or AC. the more electrical current is generated. then you can understand how a bunch of rings together produce more current. If you think of each turn of wire in the coil as a single. The direction that the current flows through the wire depends on the relative direction of motion between the magnet and the wire coil. Second. Electrical current flowing alternately back and forth through a wire is called alternating current. each of which will have electrical current induced by the passing magnet. or ring. The strength of the electrical current depends on: 1) the strength of the magnet.” or DC. a geothermal plant uses steam generated from Earth’s internal heat to drive the turbines. Questions: 1. What did you discover? How much current could you generate with ten winds in the coil? How about a hundred? 2. First with only 10 turns of wire in the coil 2. with 100 turns of wire in the coil 3. Most of California’s electrical production comes from power plants that produce AC by driving electric turbines. and 3) how quickly the magnet and coil move past each other. 2) the number of wraps of wire in the coil. Chabot Space & Science Center 3 | Page . For each of these coils. A hydroelectric plant uses water pressure to drive the turbines. The more wraps of wire the coil is made from. A coil of wire is like a stack of wire rings joined together. We get DC directly from devices like batteries and solar cells.Cool Your School – Electricity Lab 1. independent loop. hook up the wire ends to the meter and use the magnet stack to generate some electrical current. Electrical current flowing continuously in one direction through a wire is called “direct current. and a coal power plant burns coal to produce steam to drive the turbines.

The frequency with which our AC electricity alternates.Cool Your School – Electricity Lab Electricity is not a primary source of energy. back and forth. The actual sources of energy used to generate the electricity are the coal. and potential energy of water contained by dams that drive the turbines. In this experiment. In Europe. you would produce the same frequency of AC…. is 60 times per second—also called 60 Hertz (Hz). if you could move the magnet up and down the coil of wire 60 times per second. but a convenient way to transport energy from place to place. geothermal heat. natural gas. the standard is 50 Hz. Chabot Space & Science Center 4 | Page . 60 Hz is just a standard number that was decided upon for our AC power. sunlight. wind.

Cool Your School – Electricity Lab Magnet and Coil Worksheets With Wire Coil Provided in Experiment Magnet moved through coil in one direction: Maximum current ____________ Polarity(+/-) ______________ Magnet moved through coil in opposite direction: Maximum current ____________ Polarity(+/-) ______________ Magnet moved up and down coil repeatedly: Would the polarity of the current generated be better described by the word “direct” or “alternating”? With Wire Coils that You Made Coil with 10 turns of wire: Maximum current _____________ Coil with 100 turns of wire: Maximum current _____________ Chabot Space & Science Center 5 | Page .