What Is Electricity

Oldenburg, Albert Lindblom Tech High School

Objectives: To develop an understanding of the fundamentals of static electricity, namely that of materials, conditions, and charge. To learn how to detect a charge by the use of electroscopes. To learn how to determine the force between charges. Materials

Demonstration Van de Graaf generator, Jacobs ladder, thread, aluminum
foil, long plastic tubes (golf club protectors), cat or rabbits fur,
ebonite rods, glass rods, ring stands, silk pieces, scissors.

Strategy: This lesson is usually scheduled as the first in a series at the beginning of the second semester. In fact, the concepts given today are usually spread over three to five class periods. The equipment is set up before class time. Then some time is spent checking to see if it is working properly. One must work very carefully with the Jacob's ladder coil because its output can be deadly, therefore extreme caution must be practiced. It has also been suggested that a clear plastic shield should enclose the apparatus for safety purposes. The lesson starts with the question, "What is electricity?". The student's response gives one six or seven ideas which are written on the blackboard and then are emphasized with the demonstrations. After these are completed the students are divided into groups due to lack of equipment and are pre- instructed how to rotate from station to station doing all three parts of the lesson which consisted of detection of charge, making an electroscope, and determining the amount of force produced by the charge on an object. At least three trials are to be used on the force part and or using different materials to familiarize the student with the workings of Coulomb's Law. After the groups have been finished, the class as a whole will discuss the concepts and develop a consensus for their lab reports to be turned in a few days later.
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