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Determining how changing the power in an electromagnetic circuit will affect the strength of an electromagnet.

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Lacy Beare 11.15

Physics Investigation- Electromagnets

Aim- In this investigation I will be determining how changing the power in an electromagnetic circuit will affect the strength of an electromagnet.

Method- To conduct this experiment I will firstly wrap 25 coils of wire around a soft iron core. I will then create a complete circuit with an ammeter in series and a voltmeter in parallel. As a variable I will be setting the voltage to 10 volts on the adjustable power supply, which means the current will also change, I will then turn the power on so the iron is magnetised and then try to pick up as many nails as possible with one dip of the now magnetic iron core into the pile of nails set out on the table. I will then weigh the number of nails the iron electromagnetic picked up and record this result; I will then repeat this 3 times at the same voltage and current, and then change the voltage to 15,20,25,30,35 volts  repeating all these 3 times to get an accurate result. By recording both the voltage (measured in volts) and current (measured in amps) of the voltmeter and ammeter, I will be able to work out how much power (measured in watts) is going through the wire and soft iron core, I can work this out by multiplying the current by the voltage.


Adjustable power supply, low voltage, DC

Wire with plastic insulation

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I will make sure that my results are precise and reliable, by making sure that my voltmeter is in parallel and my ammeter is in series. I will be precise when wrapping the coils around the top of the soft iron core and to thoroughly insure that there are 25 coils. I will also make sure that there is the same amount of nails each time and that those are in a pile with the same diameter each time. I will also make my results more accurate by repeating each different power total three times.


To make sure that my investigation is safe, I will not turn the voltage up too high as this will then rise the temperature of the soft iron core and the insulating wire will begin to burn, this could be dangerous as it also vibrates when hot.

Scientific knowledge

The passage of an electric current along a wire creates a magnetic field around the wire. The fields are in the shape of a series of concentric rings. We can make use of this magnetic field by wrapping a wire carrying a current around a soft iron core. Soft iron is used because it is easily magnetised and demagnetised, so when the power is switched on the magnetic lines of force flow into the iron it becomes a magnet.

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Suitability of procedure

I think some parts of my procedure was suitable for the time I had to collect my results and to make sure that everything was a fair test and each time I recorded a results I made sure as accurately as I could that it was done in the exactly the same as the one before it.

Changes to improve

If I was to do this investigation again I would change some of the things I did so I wouldn’t get as many anomalies, although I still think I can support my conclusion from my graph because it is scientifically correct but the things I would change would be: I would use the same weighting machine for each test and make sure that it is on an even surface. I would also time the time that I would leave the soft iron core in the plastic beaker of nails, so this would hopefully insure that the investigation would be more of a fair test.

Further work

If I was to extend this piece of coursework I could of carry put the investigation that I was originally going to do, this might help to find out if there are other ways of increase the magnetism of an electromagnet and find out if the results were the same.

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