Shake It Up!

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Learners drop a magnet through a coil of wire to create electric current in a circuit. LEDs in the circuit allow learners to detect the direction of current flow. Learners see that the direction in which the current flows depends on the direction in which the magnet moves through the coil of wire. This is one of four activities learners can complete related to PhysicsQuest 2008. Each activity gives a clue to solve a puzzle in the accompanying comic book, "Nikola Tesla and the Electric Fair."

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
30 to 45 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$5 - $10 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 11 - 18

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Cardboard tube
  • Long copper wire
  • Green LED
  • Red LED
  • 4 disk neodymium magnets
  • Steel slug
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Ruler
  • Permanent marker
  • Student's Guide (p5-7 of PDF)


  • Physical Sciences
    • Electricity and Magnetism
      • Electric Charges and Currents
      • Electromagnetic Fields
      • Electric Circuits
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations

Informal Categories

  • Electronics
  • Literature


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • American Physical Society


  • All rights reserved, American Physical Society, 2009