Generating Electricity

The first laboratory activity is designed to be a primary scaffold to the understanding of generating electricity. Students must first understand the fundamentals of conductivity, voltage, current, and resistance before investigating the connection between electricity and magnetism.

Guiding Questions:

  • What is an electromagnet?
  • How is electricity generated?

Step 1


For this lab, you will need the solenoid you’ve made and a permanent magnet. Later, you will need an iron rod to connect to the magnet.



Step 2


In the first experiment, you will need to connect the two leads of your solenoid (with the insulation removed) to an analog current meter (ammeter). You can use alligator cables (shown in photo) to make this connection easier.


To generate electricity, shake the magnet inside the solenoid, using your hand to keep the magnet from falling out. Watch the needle on the ammeter. What do you see?

Step 3


Now, take a piece of iron rod and 3D printed end cap. Connect the end cap to the iron rod, and connect this armature to the magnet.


In the same setup as the previous experiment, use the armature to move the magent in and out of the solenoid. The armature should give you more control over the motion of the magnet. Watch the needle on the current meter. What do you notice?