How electricity can be used to transfer energy?

Finding a resource: Start here

The resources have been grouped by topic and type in the table below. If a cell in the table has the word ‘Yes’, there are resources on the topic for that row and of the type for that column. Click on ‘Yes’ to go to these resources. Click on ‘return to top’ to come back to the top of this page. The first number in the brackets is the number of files on this website and the second number is the number of other websites with useful resources.

TopicContextActivitiesAssessmentUseful weblinks
Circuit ModelsYes (6,1)Yes (0,1)NoneYes (0,2)
Circuit AnalysisYes (2,0)Yes (3,1)NoneYes (0,2)
ComponentsYes (1,0)Yes (1,0)NoneNone
Household SupplyYes (1,0)Yes (1,0)NoneNone
Electric ShockNoneYes (1,0)NoneYes (0,1)

Relevant items from the 20 years of Vicphysics Newsletters
The titles of the relevant items are listed at the bottom of this webpage, each with a number code. There is also a link to the full compendium of newsletter items where the number code can be used to locate the item.
Resources coming from teachers
Mots of the other resources on this website have come from teachers who prepared material or found a link that works well with their students. There is much of value here, but as content and technology change there is a need to keep the resources up to date. So if you have a idea you wish to share, please enter details here.

How do you start teaching the topic of electric circuits?

In the UK when teachers are applying for a new job, they are often asked to give a short lesson on a specific topic to a class at the school, a class they have never seen before. As you would imagine, this is a demanding task. To ensure they present an engaging lesson, such teachers often seek some suggestions on ‘Talkphysics’, the UK’s physics teachers’ forum.
These were some of the ideas offered to a teacher who had to present a 15 min lesson of electric circuits to a Year 9 class.

  • A model light globe. A pencil lead is held between two crocodile clips and placed or taped inside a jar. The jar is then turned upside down and put in water. The inversion in water means that once the initial oxygen has burnt off, the bulb can continue to glow.
  • 12 different analogies on the furry elephant website There is a link at the bottom of the page to the section on ‘Teaching and Learning Electricity’. It has comments on i) the order we teach things, ii) the misconceptions students already have about electricity, iii) the electrical analogies we use and iv) the language we use when we talk about electricity. This is a commercial operation by a UK teacher. There is a free preview of the animations, but to use them with a class, an individual teacher can subscribe on a monthly basis for ₤5 per month.
  • The IOP website,Practical Physics, has a webpage on ‘Electric Circuits and Fields’ which has 16 collections of activities and advice under 14 different headings.

Circuit Models: Contexts

Unit 1 Youtube videos 147 kB pdf

A file produced by Yibo Zhao from the Distance Education Centre for Year 11 students doing Unit 1. It contains a weekly program of content and supporting Youtube videos with active links, many of which Yibo produced himself.

Understanding Electricity and Circuits: What the textbooks don’t tell you. 206 kB pdf

A 12 page article by Ian Sefton of the University of Sydney, mentioned as a useful resource at the Unit 3 Course Planning Days in Nov 2016. Highly recommended.

The Smarties model for electric circuits 72.7 kB doc

10 page article on ‘Some models for developing beginning students’ understanding of Electric Circuits’. Presented by Dr Christina Hart at the 2007 and 2008 Physics Teachers Conferences.

Circuit Models 159 kB doc

3 page article on ‘Models for DC Circuits’. Presented by Dr Christina Hart at the 2011 Physics Teachers Conferences.

Models for Electric Circuits 1.76 MB ppt

The PowerPoint file from the presentation by Dr Christina Hart at the 2011 Physics Teachers Conferences..

Are we teaching electricity the wrong way round?

A useful article by ABC science journalist Bernie Hobbs.

Bernie Hobbs on Charge

Another useful article.
How do you start teaching the topic of electric circuits? This question was posted on the UK Physics Teachers’ Forum TalkPhysics by a beginning teacher. These are some of the responses.

  • A model light globe. A pencil lead is held between two crocodile clips and placed or taped inside a jar. The jar is then turned upside down and put in water. The inversion in water means that once the initial oxygen has burnt off, the bulb can continue to glow.
  • A link to descriptions of 12 different analogies. There is a link at the bottom of the page to the section on ‘Teaching and Learning Electricity’ with ideas on misconceptions, analogies and language to use.
  • The IOP website, Practical Physics, has a webpage on ‘Electric Circuits and Fields’, which has 16 collections of activities and advice under 14 different headings.

Circuit Analysis: Contexts

Unit 1 Youtube videos 147 kB pdf

A file produced by Yibo Zhao from the Distance Education Centre for Year 11 students doing Unit 1. It contains a weekly program of content and supporting Youtube videos with active links, many of which Yibo produced himself.

Household Supply: Contexts

Circuit Models: Activities

Conceptual Understanding Procedures

Check student worksheets for examples for electric circuits.

Circuit Analysis: Activities

Electricity Workbook 1.6 MB doc

A workbook of electricity practical activities that can be done as a self paced activity over about four weeks. It also includes a very old article on solar cells with questions and answers. (A 30 page Word document).
Easy and Engaging Light Pracs by Spiros Liacos at 2014 Conference also had some Electricity prac sheets. These and others are also available at Liacos Educational Media.

Electric Circuits Prac 12.5 kB pdf

Prac sheet by Spiros Liacos from Cheltenham Secondary College

Electric Circuits Prac – Extension Activities 15.7 kB pdf

Prac sheet by Spiros Liacos from Cheltenham Secondary College

A level Activities on Electric Circuits

STEM Learning is a UK-based comprehensive curriculum resource. It has several resources for each of 17 Physics topics including this one on Current and EMF. They are for the UK A level course, but most resources are suitable for this Area of Study. Another of the topics is DC Circuits and Capacitors, which series and parallel and potential dividers.

Components: Activities

Electricity Workbook 1.6 MB doc

A workbook of electricity practical activities that can be done as a self paced activity over about four weeks. It also includes a very old article on solar cells with questions and answers. (A 30 page Word document).

Household Supply: Activities

Electricity Workbook 1.6 MB doc

A workbook of electricity practical activities that can be done as a self paced activity over about four weeks. It also includes a very old article on solar cells with questions and answers. (A 30 page Word document).

Electric shock: Activities

Electrophorus Experiment 268kB pdf
Electrophorus Experiment with answers 987kB pdf

Circuit Models: Useful Websites

Applets showing models of electric current

The website has two applets using water flow as an analogy and two using flow of charge. They were prepared by Lisa Murphy from the University of Illinois.

Lightning Investigation and Analysis

Lightning is one of nature’s most spectacular phenomenon. Tom Warner seeks to document lightning’s beauty, power, and ferocity using an array of optical and electromagnetic sensors in hopes of better understanding its behavior. Since 2007, he has used high-speed cameras capable of recording lightning at up to 100,000 images per second. These cameras enable us to see lightning like never before as we can clearly watch lightning propagate downward from the clouds or upward from tall objects. The website features Investigations, Projects and a Gallery.

Circuit Analysis: Useful Websites

Lightning Investigation and Analysis

Lightning is one of nature’s most spectacular phenomenon. Tom Warner seeks to document lightning’s beauty, power, and ferocity using an array of optical and electromagnetic sensors in hopes of better understanding its behavior. Since 2007, he has used high-speed cameras capable of recording lightning at up to 100,000 images per second. These cameras enable us to see lightning like never before as we can clearly watch lightning propagate downward from the clouds or upward from tall objects. The website features Investigations, Projects and a Gallery.

Kirchhoff’s Revenge

An Adventure Game. “Kirchhoff is annoyed because nobody appreciates his circuit laws! You get transported to his secret lair and won’t be able to get out until you show appreciation!” There are eight levels and it is available in both Mac and Windows versions.

Electric Shock: Useful Websites

Lightning Investigation and Analysis

Lightning is one of nature’s most spectacular phenomenon. Tom Warner seeks to document lightning’s beauty, power, and ferocity using an array of optical and electromagnetic sensors in hopes of better understanding its behavior. Since 2007, he has used high-speed cameras capable of recording lightning at up to 100,000 images per second. These cameras enable us to see lightning like never before as we can clearly watch lightning propagate downward from the clouds or upward from tall objects. The website features Investigations, Projects and a Gallery.

Relevant items from the 20 years of Vicphysics Newsletters
The titles of the relevant items are listed here, each with a number code. This is the full compendium of newsletter items where the number code can be used to locate the item. The file is 2.5MB.
D311 How do you start teaching the topic of electric circuits?
D430. The Big Misconception about Electricity
D435 Articles from the journals of the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) the Institute of Physics (IOP): Electric Circuits