Day 7: What is happening in the wires when a capacitor is in the circuit?

Physics 10 wrapped up the Constant Velocity Particle Model packet with a couple of really great and subtle class discussions about what information they could get from position-time and velocity-time graphs that included ideas about translating between representations to get a better understanding of what was happening with an object’s motion.

physics 10

The Circuits class started figuring out more about what must be happening in the wires when a capacitor is in the circuit by putting lightbulbs both in front of and behind the capacitor. Both lit and compass readings showed charge moving in every wire. In the middle of their discussion, I had an idea and grabbed the “atoms” that I had made last year for chemistry students to use in balancing equations and used them as charges in the circuit. It really helped to be able to move them around and visualize what was happening.

charges 1

They started really piecing things together and got two new ideas—1) that the charges must already be present in the wires and 2) that the battery supplies the push for the charges rather than the charge itself. Then we got another new toy (the Genecon) and started the process of pulling apart our ideas of charge and energy from each other.

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