Electricity & Magnetism – Hands-On Experiments For All Ages

Being without strength due to a storm gave us the opportunity to explain electricity to our four-year-old daughter who was quite confused and angry when the lights and TV did not work. So I read Switch On, Switch Off by Melvin Berger, a really great book that describes electricity, how it works, how to create it, and how it travels by our neighborhoods and homes.

Reading about electricity and magnetism with my children, I learned a few things about electricity myself. I already knew that breaking a circuit would end the flow of electricity, but what I did not know was how the electricity was produced in the first place.

This science story book shows how magnets are used to move the electrons inside the circuit, and this is how electricity is produced. A strength plant uses large magnets to generate strength, and we can do this on a small extent with a small wire and a hand-held magnet.

Here are a few experiments and resources to help get you started learning about electricity and magnetism.

CAUTION: For safety reasons, all electrical experiments should be performed with a battery instead of an electrical outlet. A battery will provide only a small amount of electricity. Also, all experiments should be performed with an adult.

Experiment #1

Materials:

Circuit Wire

Bar Magnet

Compass

Steps:

1. Wrap the cord around your hand a few times.

2. Carefully remove your hand without disturbing the coils.

3. Wrap the cord around the compass.

4. Connect the two ends of the wire.

5. Move the magnet in and out of the coils.

Results: You will see the needle of the compass move in response to the electricity flowing by the wire. The magnet is creating electricity by forcing the electrons in the wire to move from one atom to another.

Experiment #2

Materials:

Battery

Strip of Tin Foil

Circuit wire

Strong, horseshoe magnet

Steps:

1. Connect the wire and the tin foil together.

2. Close the circuit by adding the battery.

3. Put the horseshoe magnet over the tin foil strip.

Results: The tin foil will bend in response to the magnet responding to the electricity passing by the tin foil.

You can continue to analyze magnetism with these books and materials:

Experiment Kits

You can buy magnet or electricity kits at a toy store or teacher store. We found one at an art store, and it made a great Christmas gift for the family. Kids of all ages love to analyze with magnets, and already after learning all the lessons on magnets, the children nevertheless love to play with them.

What makes a Magnet? by Franklyn M. Branley.

This illustrated science story book not only tells you how magnets work but why. The pictures and descriptions make it easy for already young children to understand.

Janice VanCleave’s Magnets: Mind-boggling Experiments You Can Turn Into Science Fair Projects by Janice VanCleave

Janice VanCleave writes easy to follow steps. This book is for older children, but with the help of an adult, these experiments can be done with younger children in addition.

Janice VanCleave’s Electricity: Mind-boggling Experiments You Can Turn Into Science Fair Projects by Janice VanCleave

This Janice VanCleave book is dedicated to electricity. Again, you will find easy to follow steps and descriptions. Her books are great science resources for all ages.