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Name: Clifton G.
Status: educator
Age: 40s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 2001-2002


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.

Vince Calder



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