Inspired by the work of Professor Bruce Sherwood to create a new, more intuitive way to teach electrical circuits, “Circuit Electron Flow” simulates the flow of electrons through a wire caused by electric fields created by surface charges. Four different situations are presented, in order of increasing complexity:
This simulation deviates from traditional Ohm’s Law-based circuit analysis techniques, and shows students behavior of the individual electrons in a circuit. Students no longer are asked to merely accept that electrons flow along a wire, but rather are asked to show *why* electrons would flow along a wire rather than merely away from the negative end of a battery and toward the positive end of a battery.
The simulation is designed to be simple enough to understand by itself, while the corresponding worksheet walks students through a set of increasingly complex scenarios to build their understanding of the physics behind electron flow in a circuit. For an introduction to the mechanics of electron flow through metal, please see our “Drude Model Conduction” simulation.
Please let us know what you think of “Circuit Electron Flow” in the comments below!
We are excited to announce our newest simulation, “Balloon Charging Lab”. This simulation walks through the process of charging a balloon, and then allows users to charge other objects. We took great care to represent the motion of the electrons in the various materials in a way that is accessible to middle school and high school physics students, and are looking forward to using it in our classes next week.
The simulation features:
-A realistic balloon hanging from the ceiling by a stretchy string
-Insulators whose electrons randomly move in their atom’s “cloud”, but are influenced by all of the charges around them
-Conductors whose electrons are free to move throughout the material
-Electron transfer between the balloon and the other objects
-Physics-accurate force calculations based on the location of all point charges
Please let us know if you are using the simulation in the comments below!
Winter break is a great time to look for new teaching resources. Here is an excellent one from the “Physics Education” Google+ group:
There are a huge number of physics simulations here, all developed by Frank McCulley, a high school physics teacher in New Jersey.
We have been looking for a good way to plot data for the “Constant Speed Motion” toy car lab we do at the beginning of the year, and his “Quick Graph and Linearization” tool is exactly what we needed. It will work on any device with a browser, and it gives a linear best fit line way more quickly than Microsoft Excel.
Let us know in the comments below if you have tried any of Frank’s simulations or tools, or have any other recommendations for great sites!
This past week in our iPad 1:1 physics classes we have been exploring momentum. Historically, we have opened with the “collision cart” lab. The plastic carts we use keep breaking and this year we didn’t have enough functional carts to run the lab.
iPads to the rescue! This year we demonstrated the collisions in the front of the room, then had students complete the lab virtually on their iPads. We had 100% engagement, as every student had to do their own thinking about transfer of momentum between the cars and how to show that momentum was conserved in every collision.
“Collision Cart” sim in each student’s hands + paper copy of lab in each student’s hands + pencil + calculator = 100% engagement
Click the picture below to show the simulation and lab that we used:
Over the past year we have been developing simulations and games to use with our students. For the past few months, The Physics Classroom has been kind enough to host most of it, but we were looking for a way to make all of our work available to the public, including our chemistry and biology simulations. Thus, SimBucket was born.
Everything on SimBucket is free to use. We are constantly creating new simulations for our students. As we create them we will post them here. We are also constantly creating new supplementary materials for the simulations, including labs and activities. Please feel free to try them out or modify them however you want. We have included the original Microsoft Word documents in .docx format. If you don’t see a lab activity listed on SimBucket, be sure to check that particular simulation’s page on The Physics Classroom, where there might be one already developed.
We hope you enjoy our simulations, and please feel free to contact us if you have any questions!
Chris Bruce, Martin Kulak, Dave Torpe, and Kevin Shane