The Charge and Charging Concept Builder is an adjustable-size file that displays nicely on smart phones, on tablets such as the iPad, on Chromebooks, and on laptops and desktops. The size of the Concept Builder can be scaled to fit the device that it is displayed on. The compatibility with smart phones, iPads, other tablets, and Chromebooks make it a perfect tool for use in a 1:1 classroom.


Teaching Ideas and Suggestions:

Many Physics courses include a unit on Static Electricity. A unit on Static Electricity typically begins with a study of the distinction between charged and uncharged objects and an understanding of what must happen at the particle level in order for a neutral object to become charged positively or negatively. In order to understand more advanced topics in static electricity, these very basic ideas must be understood. This Concept Builder addresses those topics. We recommend its use at or near the beginning of a unit on Static Electricity.

This Concept Builder consists of three different activities. Those three activities are described as follows:
  • Particle Count: Question Groups 1-6. An object is described as being positively-charged, negatively-charged, or electrically neutral. Learners must compare the relative number of protons and electrons for each.
  • Get Into the Flow: Question Groups 7-12. An electrostatic procedure is described as having changed a neutral object into a charged object - either positive or negative  (or vice versa). Learners must identify why the change occurred in terms of proton and/or electron movement.
  • Analyze This! Question Groups 13-16. Two objects are described as changing from an initial charge state to a final charge state as a result of an electrostatic procedure. Learners must compare the relative number of protons and electrons in each state for each object and identify how the change from the initial charge state to the final state occurred in terms of proton and/or electron movement.

Before using the Concept Builder with your classes, we recommend that teachers attempt each of the activities in order to determine which are most appropriate for your classes and what pre-requisite understanding a student must have in order to complete it. Alternatively, the questions are provided in a separate file for preview purposes. Our suggestion is to assign all three activities because as a whole they provide a full presentation and assessment of the nature of a charged object and the manner in which they become charged.

In order to complete an activity, a student must correctly analyze each question in that activity. If a student's analysis is incorrect, then the student will have to correctly analyze the same or very similar question twice in order to successfully complete the activity. This approach provides the student extra practice on questions for which they exhibited difficulty. As a student progresses through an activity, a system of stars and other indicators are used to indicate progress on the level. A star is an indicator of correctly analyzing the question. Once a star is earned, that question is removed from the queue of questions to be analyzed. Each situation is color-coded with either a yellow or a red box. A red box indicates that the student has incorrectly analyzed the question and will have to correctly analyze it twice before earning a star. A yellow box is an indicator that the question must be correctly analyzed one time in order to earn a star. Once every question in an activity has been analyzed, the student earns a Trophy which is displayed on the Main Menu. This system of stars and trophies allows a teacher to easily check-off student progress or offer credit for completing assigned activities.

The most valuable (and most overlooked) aspect of this Concept Builder is the Help Me! feature. Each question group is accompanied by a Help page that discusses the specifics of the question. This Help feature transforms the activity from a question-answering activity into a concept-building activity. The student who takes the time to use the Help pages can be transformed from a guesser to a learner and from an unsure student to a confident student. The "meat and potatoes" of the Help pages are in the sections titled "How to Think About This Situation:" Students need to be encouraged by teachers to use the Help Me! button and to read this section of the page. A student that takes time to reflect upon how they are answering the question and how an expert would think about the situation can transform their naivete into expertise. 


Related Resources

There are numerous resources at The Physics Classroom website that serve as very complementary supports for the Charge and Charging Concept Builder. These include:
  • Minds On Physics Internet Modules:
    The Minds On Physics Internet Modules include a collection of interactive questioning modules that help learners assess their understanding of physics concepts and solidify those understandings by answering questions that require higher-order thinking. Assignment SE1 of the Static Electricity module provides a great complement to this Concept Builder. This Concept Builder will also provide great support for completion of Assignments SE3 through SE7.  These are best used in the middle to later stages of the learning cycle. Visit the Minds On Physics Internet Modules.

    Users may find that the App version of Minds On Physics works best on their devices. The App Version can be found at the Minds On Physics the App section of our website. The Static Electricity module can be found on Part 4 of the six-part App series. Visit Minds On Physics the App.

  • Physics Interactives: Our Physics Interactives section includes interactive simulations that can be easily blended with the use of this Concept Builder. The following simulation is a great complement to Charge and Charging:



Additional resources and ideas for incorporating this Charge and Charging Concept Builder into an instructional unit on Static Electricity can be found at the Teacher Toolkits section of The Physics Classroom website.  Visit Teacher Toolkits.