First you need to gather up all of the materials you will need. Below is a list of the following items needed to conduct this experiment:
• A battery power pack
• 1 small non-metallic bowl
• A needle
• Modeling clay
• Cork – ¼” slice off of a large cork
• A horseshoe magnet
• #22 insulated copper wire, 2 feet long w/ insulation stripped at both ends
• A switch
Are you ready? Let’s get started. First you need to rub the needle repeatedly from the center to end with the magnet. Then tape the needle to the cork and place in a small bowl of water. Watch the direction of the needle when you place the magnet near it. Next, place the wire over the top of the dish and secure it with clay. Connect one end of the wire to the switch. Connect wire from the switch to the negative terminal on the battery pack. Connect the wire from the other end of the bowl to the positive terminal on the battery pack. Close the switch. Congratulations! You’ve just completed the same experiment that Oersted did back in 1819.
What is happening? Can you figure it out? When the electric current is flowing, there is a magnetic field around the circuit. Essentially, when the current is flowing, the magnetic needle is deflected at right angles to the circuit wire. Because of this experiment, electromagnetism was discovered.