LESSONS: Electromagnetism

The majority of lesson ideas below require minimal resources other than the smartphone, and are relevant to introductory physics in high school and college. However, creative individuals are using smartphone science in more complex ways, with drones, engineering kits, and much more. Follow us on Twitter @PhysicsToolbox and see our Publications page for additional content.
Electromagnetism and the Oersted Effect

What is the relationship between CURRENT and MAGNETIC FIELD deflection?

Try This

Using the Compass tool, place a wire across the top of the compass, along the "North-South" direction. Send a variable current through through the wire using a series of batteries or a power source. Observe what happens to the compass when the current is traveling through the wire.


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Electromagnetism and Helmholtz Coil

What is the relationship between CURRENT and MAGNETIC FIELD magnitude in three dimensions?

Try This

Using the Magnetometer tool, place the smartphone inside of a Helmholtz coil attached to a power source. Measure the magnetic field strength as a function of current in the coil.

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Electromagnetism and the Bio-Savart Law

What is the value of PERMEABILITY OF FREE SPACE?

Try This

Evaluate the Bio-Savart Law  by taking a smartphone while recording Magnetometer and Accelerometer data by mounting it on a cart on a frictionless track through a current-carrying coil of known numbers of turns, radius, and current. 


Challenge Yourself

  • Double integrate the accelerometer data after export as a .csv to determine the position of the smartphone with respect to the center of the coil.

  • Create a graph of magnetic field strength, B, versus position with respect to the center of the coil, y.

  • Modify the graph to linearize the data. (i.e., plot B^(-2/3) versus y^2.)

  • Determine permeability of free space using the known Bio-Savart Law.


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