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Energy in a Magnetic Field
written by Rebecca Vieyra and Ramon Lopez
This lesson for high school physics introduces the concept of energy in magnetic fields through use of a phone app and NASA video and image sets. Students use the magnetometer in the MagnaAR app to map field vectors and strength of the magnetic field surrounding common magnets. Based on direct observation, they will construct explanations of how energy is stored in magnetic fields and represent their understanding of this energy flow through pie charts. This leads to the culminating activity, in which students examine energy in a solar flare and apply that knowledge to authentic, cutting edge 2020 data of magnetic reconnection -- one of the key drivers of space radiation.
Subjects Levels Resource Types
- The Sun
= Magnetic Activity
Education Practices
- Active Learning
- Technology
= Multimedia
Electricity & Magnetism
- Magnetic Fields and Forces
= Magnetic Fields
- High School
- Instructional Material
= Activity
= Lesson/Lesson Plan
= Problem/Problem Set
- Audio/Visual
= Image/Image Set
Appropriate Courses Categories Ratings
- Physics First
- Conceptual Physics
- Algebra-based Physics
- AP Physics
- Lesson Plan
- Activity
- New teachers
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Intended User:
Access Rights:
Free access
This material is released under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license.
Rights Holder:
American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT)
Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission, NASA MMS, magnetic field vectors, magnetic reconnection
Record Creator:
Metadata instance created July 10, 2022 by Caroline Hall
Record Updated:
July 10, 2022 by Caroline Hall
Last Update
when Cataloged:
July 10, 2022

Next Generation Science Standards

Disciplinary Core Ideas (K-12)

Types of Interactions (PS2.B)
  • Forces at a distance are explained by fields (gravitational, electric, and magnetic) permeating space that can transfer energy through space. Magnets or electric currents cause magnetic fields; electric charges or changing magnetic fields cause electric fields. (9-12)
Definitions of Energy (PS3.A)
  • These relationships are better understood at the microscopic scale, at which all of the different manifestations of energy can be modeled as a combination of energy associated with the motion of particles and energy associated with the configuration (relative position of the particles). In some cases the relative position energy can be thought of as stored in fields (which mediate interactions between particles). This last concept includes radiation, a phenomenon in which energy stored in fields moves across space. (9-12)
Relationship Between Energy and Forces (PS3.C)
  • When two objects interacting through a field change relative position, the energy stored in the field is changed. (9-12)
Energy in Chemical Processes and Everyday Life (PS3.D)
  • Nuclear Fusion processes in the center of the sun release the energy that ultimately reaches Earth as radiation. (9-12)
The Universe and its Stars (ESS1.A)
  • Other than the hydrogen and helium formed at the time of the Big Bang, nuclear fusion within stars produces all atomic nuclei lighter than and including iron, and the process releases electromagnetic energy. Heavier elements are produced when certain massive stars achieve a supernova stage and explode. (9-12)

Crosscutting Concepts (K-12)

Patterns (K-12)
  • Different patterns may be observed at each of the scales at which a system is studied and can provide evidence for causality in explanations of phenomena. (9-12)
Systems and System Models (K-12)
  • Models can be used to predict the behavior of a system, but these predictions have limited precision and reliability due to the assumptions and approximations inherent in models. (9-12)
Energy and Matter (2-12)
  • Changes of energy and matter in a system can be described in terms of energy and matter flows into, out of, and within that system. (9-12)
  • Energy cannot be created or destroyed—it only moves between one place and another place, between objects and/or fields, or between systems. (9-12)
Scientific Knowledge Assumes an Order and Consistency in Natural Systems (1-12)
  • Science assumes the universe is a vast single system in which basic laws are consistent. (9-12)

NGSS Science and Engineering Practices (K-12)

Analyzing and Interpreting Data (K-12)
  • Analyzing data in 9–12 builds on K–8 and progresses to introducing more detailed statistical analysis, the comparison of data sets for consistency, and the use of models to generate and analyze data. (9-12)
    • Analyze data using tools, technologies, and/or models (e.g., computational, mathematical) in order to make valid and reliable scientific claims or determine an optimal design solution. (9-12)
Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions (K-12)
  • Constructing explanations and designing solutions in 9–12 builds on K–8 experiences and progresses to explanations and designs that are supported by multiple and independent student-generated sources of evidence consistent with scientific ideas, principles, and theories. (9-12)
    • Construct an explanation based on valid and reliable evidence obtained from a variety of sources (including students' own investigations, models, theories, simulations, peer review) and the assumption that theories and laws that describe the natural world operate today as they did in the past and will continue to do so in the future. (9-12)
Developing and Using Models (K-12)
  • Modeling in 9–12 builds on K–8 and progresses to using, synthesizing, and developing models to predict and show relationships among variables between systems and their components in the natural and designed worlds. (9-12)
    • Use a model based on evidence to illustrate the relationships between systems or between components of a system. (9-12)
ComPADRE is beta testing Citation Styles!

Record Link
AIP Format
R. Vieyra and R. Lopez, , 2022, WWW Document, (https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=16171&DocID=5560).
R. Vieyra and R. Lopez, Energy in a Magnetic Field, 2022, <https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=16171&DocID=5560>.
APA Format
Vieyra, R., & Lopez, R. (2022). Energy in a Magnetic Field. Retrieved November 30, 2022, from https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=16171&DocID=5560
Chicago Format
Vieyra, Rebecca, and Ramon Lopez. "Energy in a Magnetic Field." 1-12. 2022. https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=16171&DocID=5560 (accessed 30 November 2022).
MLA Format
Vieyra, Rebecca, and Ramon Lopez. Energy in a Magnetic Field. 2022. 30 Nov. 2022 <https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=16171&DocID=5560>.
BibTeX Export Format
@techreport{ Author = "Rebecca Vieyra and Ramon Lopez", Title = {Energy in a Magnetic Field}, Month = {July}, Year = {2022} }
Refer Export Format

%A Rebecca Vieyra %A Ramon Lopez %T Energy in a Magnetic Field %D July 10, 2022 %P 1-12 %U https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=16171&DocID=5560 %O application/pdf

EndNote Export Format

%0 Report %A Vieyra, Rebecca %A Lopez, Ramon %D July 10, 2022 %T Energy in a Magnetic Field %P 1-12 %8 July 10, 2022 %U https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=16171&DocID=5560

Disclaimer: ComPADRE offers citation styles as a guide only. We cannot offer interpretations about citations as this is an automated procedure. Please refer to the style manuals in the Citation Source Information area for clarifications.

Citation Source Information

The AIP Style presented is based on information from the AIP Style Manual.

The APA Style presented is based on information from APA Style.org: Electronic References.

The Chicago Style presented is based on information from Examples of Chicago-Style Documentation.

The MLA Style presented is based on information from the MLA FAQ.

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