Current-Carrying Coils In Magnetic Fields
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Landato, Janet St. Viator High School
At the end of this exercise the student should be able to:
1. predict the direction of movement for the pointer of a home-made
galvanometer for a given current direction.
2. describe how the current-carrying coil exerts a force on the
3. predict how the number of turns of wire in the rotating coil
influences the rotation speed of the motor.
4. describe why the DC motor works without an armature.
1.5 m of enameled copper wire, one 1.5 V battery, one film cannister,
two paper clips, 4 large rubber bands, one flat magnet with a hole, one
hair pin, two nails, one small piece of wood or pegboard, two alligator
clips, one large plastic bag
Each student takes a plastic bag with apparatus inside. Teacher asks
"How can this 'junk' be used to find out how a current-carrying coil is
influenced by a magnetic field?" After a short discussion, the teacher
shows models of film-cannister galvanometers and DC motors. Students
are encouraged to construct their own models and try to discover:
How does the number of turns of wire on the loop or galvanometer
change the behavior of the apparatus?
Does the distance of the rotating coil to the magnet influence the
speed of the coil?
Does the number of batteries change the speed?
How does the direction of current through the coil influence the
direction that the galvanometer swings?
The direction that the motor coil rotates?
Explain how the coil exerts a force on the moving magnet in the
What makes and breaks the circuit in the DC motor if there is no
"The Electric Motor Challenge", Physics Teacher. March, l74 (1985).
"Improvement on the Electric Motor", Physics Teacher. May, 308 (1985).