Question:
What are the most important aspects of electricity that
should be included in a high school science class ?

Replies:
This is really a very broad topic that can be approached at many levels. But
here are some topics:

1. The origin and history of electricity (the
electron). A lot was known about electricity before the discovery of the
electron, the measurement of its charge and mass. The latter were known only
about 100 years ago + or -.

2. Static electricity -- a long range strong
force. Static electricity is far stronger than gravity for example. It can
pick up a bit of paper from several cm, overcoming the force of gravity on
the bit of paper (its weight).

3. Direct current, Ohms law, simple
series/parallel circuits and the measurement of electrical resistance (maybe
even the effect of temperature if you have a source of liquid nitrogen.

4. Methods of generating direct currents -- chemical batteries for
example, the
use of direct current to plate out metals and cause other chemical reactions
such as the electrolysis.

5. Alternating current -- here things get more
complicated because some trig. will have to be introduced/used.

6. The relation of electricity and magnetism -- using electricity to make a
permanent magnet. The basics of motors and generators.

7. A brief and simplified intro. to Maxwell's equations.
The math will be too high most likely, but it is important that the students
realize that with a small number of equations and some mathematical skills
you can know all there is to know about electricity and magnetism. I think
it is interesting that Maxwell assumed that electromagnetic fields
propogated at the speed of light -- it wasn't Einstein!
It is also important to impress students with a time line of the
understanding of electricity and magnetism it is only about 100 - 150 years
old.

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