5H15.10-Iron Filings Around a Wire

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Video: Watch this demo

Instructor’s video

Description: Iron filings are sprinkled around a vertical wire running through plexiglass.
The iron filings align themselves with the magnetic field caused by the current in the wire.


  • Large DC power supply
  • Vertical wire piece
  • Two vertical wire piece
  • Iron Filings
  • 4 Banana plug cables
  • Overhead Projector

Setup Procedure:

  1. Connect the vertical wire piece to the power supply using two cables in parallel per terminal.
  2. Test to make sure both apparatuses work.
  3. Place on the overhead projector and focus it.
  4. When the professor is done, dump the filings on a piece a paper and then pour them back into the jar.

Demonstration Procedure:

  1. Turn on the overhead projector.
  2. Turn on the power supply.
  3. Sprinkle iron filings on the Vertical wire piece. You may tap the piece a little to help them align. Note that the filings align in the direction of the magnetic field created around the wire.
  4. This may be repeated with the two vertical wire piece.
  5. When finished, turn off the power supply.