Abstract: This series of activities is designed to allow the student to explore the effect of an external field on a current-carrying wire in that field. It is expected that students would have some prior experience with magnetism but that they would not have studied this particular topic before the lab.
Students determine the direction of the magnetic force on the wire, allowing them an opportunity to experience the right-hand rule. For Regents level students, the concept of the direction of a force vector being in an unexpected direction can be explored without going into the right-hand rule. For AP Physics students, mastering the right-hand rule is essential. The lab will give the students a very visual experience of the theory. Students also determine the relationship between the length of the current-carrying wire in the magnetic field and magnetic force and between the current in the wire and the magnetic force. Students gain valuable experience in gathering data, calculations, graphing and graphical interpretation. An optional extension activity in mapping the field is included.