Bare wires

In the last couple of years, I have made good use of the “bare wire” lab for electric potential difference. I first learned a version of this lab in the Modeling curriculum for electricity and magnetism. In this activity, students measure the potential difference of bare wires connected to a battery pack, but not connected to anything else. Lab2_Quiz_Quest1

This is extremely helpful in developing the idea that a wire can have zero potential difference along its length. And in developing the idea of potential difference being a difference between two different points.

Then, students connect a long bulb and a round bulb to the battery and repeat their measurements.

Lab2_Quiz_Quest_3

Finally, they make a graph of potential versus position.

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About marcreif

I live and teach high school physics in the town I was born in, Fayetteville, Arkansas. My professional interests include modeling instruction and Advanced Placement courses. I also work as a College Board Workshop Consultant, which means I lead Pre-AP and AP Science Teacher workshops. Lately I've also been leading a fair amount of student review sessions for the National Math and Science Initiative. I have a website for students (fysicsfool.info) and another for AP Summer Institute participants (apsifool.info). I tweet infrequently (@marcreif).
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