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Using paperclips to experiment the effects of the strength of a magnet

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Jack Mariner                                                 Physics Coursework

Using paperclips to experiment the effects of the strength of a magnet


I am going to carry out an experiment, which involves different amounts of coils wrapped around a magnet (forming, with the aid of electricity from a power pack, an electromagnet). The purpose being to establish the relationship between the number of coils and the amount of paper clips picked up.

Originally the idea was to count the clips that the electromagnet picked up, but this proved too time consuming. Because of this, we decided to weigh the clips that had been attracted instead.



Certain materials exert invisible forces, similar to electric forces. A magnet will attract objects made of iron, and a few other metals. I am using paperclips, which are made out of iron.

Magnetism from electricity

A connection between electricity and magnetism was discovered (accidentally) by Orsted over 100 years ago, who noticed that a compass needle is deflected when brought into the vicinity of a current carrying wire. Thus, currents induce in their vicinity magnetic fields. An electromagnet is simply a coil of wires which; when a current is passed through, generate a magnetic field.


An electromagnet can also be called a Solenoid.

...read more.


Safety Precautions

Although this experiment is very simple, safety must always be taken into account. Firstly, electricity is being supplied so all components should be handled carefully. Avoid contact with water. The only other safety issue that needs to be taken into account when undergoing such an experiment is that magnets can ruin electrical devices such as watches etc, so it would be advised to prevent contact between such objects.


Jack Mariner                                                 Physics Coursework

Suitable Range

The range of the number of coils that I shall be experimenting with is from 10 to 20 coils. I shall take 12 readings. These will be with 10 coils, 12 coils, 14 coils, 16 coils, 18 coils and 20 coils. In order to produce accurate results, more than one reading must be taken. This is why I have taken two readings. These will then be averaged. The reason for choosing these particular amounts is because they are spaced out evenly and easy to compare.


The first thing to do is to get our equipment out and set it up. Then get the electromagnet ready. To do this you coil the wire around the magnet. This should be done so that the number of coils is what you are testing i.e.

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The results did show that my predictions had been right. The amount of paperclips increased with the increasing number of coils.


I consider this experiment to be a success. The plan was followed very well and the results were of good quality. The measurements were done accurately, and a fair test was achieved. The procedure used was also a very fair and efficient one.

Although the experiment was a success, I am still bothered by the fact that anomalous results occured in my experiment. I think that the reasons for these results were because of time limitations. We had very little time to accomplish this task successfully, so mistakes were inevitable.image02.png

The improvements that could be made in doing this experiment are:

  • To have more time to do the experiment so that it isn’t done making careless mistakes and if mistakes were made, there would be enough time to redo what was needed.
  • Using Iron filings or something that would give a more accurate weight.
  • Taking more readings. These would give much more accurate results. Two readings are never enough but in the time I had this had to be done.

...read more.

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