Activities

Electric Current

Explore the relationships between voltage, current, and resistance that make up Ohm's Law using molecular models of circuits.

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Requirements

The Java Runtime Environment version 5 (sometimes referred to as 1.5) or later with Java Webstart is required to run any of the activities. You can download it at: java.com.

Explore how electric current works. Start at an atomic level and use interactive models to investigate how temperature can affect conductivity and resistivity in a substance by monitoring a virtual ammeter. Explore how factors such as resistivity and voltage affect the flow of electrons and learn about Ohm’s law.

Students will be able to:

  • Explain how voltage is the driving force behind electron movement
  • Define electric current as the number of electrons flowing through a wire over a given period of time
  • Explain how conductivity and resistivity relate to electric current
  • Infer the relationships between current, voltage, and resistance as described in Ohm’s Law (I = V / R)
  • Explain how electricity can be converted to other forms of energy
Download & Launch

Download Size: 5 MB

WARNING: Your data will not be saved. To save data, run this activity as a registered user. You can register at the project portal. Please view the requirements below before launching this activity.

Subject
Physics

Focus Area
Modeling and Simulation

Grade Level
High School

License
LGPL License

AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008)

3. The Nature of Technology

3B. Design and Systems
  • 3B/M3a. By the end of the 8th grade, students should know that almost all control systems have inputs, outputs, and feedback.

4. The Physical Setting

4D. The Structure of Matter
  • 4D/M9**. By the end of the 8th grade, students should know that materials vary in how they respond to electric currents, magnetic forces, and visible light or other electromagnetic waves.
  • 4D/H1*. By the end of the 12th grade, students should know that atoms are made of a positively charged nucleus surrounded by negatively charged electrons. The nucleus is a tiny fraction of the volume of an atom but makes up almost all of its mass. The nucleus is composed of protons and neutrons which have roughly the same mass but differ in that protons are positively charged while neutrons have no electric charge.
4E. Energy Transformations
  • 4E/M2*. By the end of the 8th grade, students should know that energy can be transferred from one system to another (or from a system to its environment) in different ways: 1) thermally, when a warmer object is in contact with a cooler one; 2) mechanically, when two objects push or pull on each other over a distance; 3) electrically, when an electrical source such as a battery or generator is connected in a complete circuit to an electrical device; or 4) by electromagnetic waves.
  • 4E/M4*. By the end of the 8th grade, students should know that energy appears in different forms and can be transformed within a system. Motion energy is associated with the speed of an object. Thermal energy is associated with the temperature of an object. Gravitational energy is associated with the height of an object above a reference point. Elastic energy is associated with the stretching or compressing of an elastic object. Chemical energy is associated with the composition of a substance. Electrical energy is associated with an electric current in a circuit. Light energy is associated with the frequency of electromagnetic waves.
4G. Forces of Nature
  • 4G/M4** (NSES). By the end of the 8th grade, students should know that electrical circuits require a complete loop through which an electrical current can pass.
  • 4G/H4ab*. By the end of the 12th grade, students should know that in many conducting materials, such as metals, some of the electrons are not firmly held by the nuclei of the atoms that make up the material. In these materials, applied electric forces can cause the electrons to move through the material, producing an electric current. In insulating materials, such as glass, the electrons are held more firmly, making it nearly impossible to produce an electric current in those materials.

8. The Designed World

8C. Energy Sources and Use
  • 8C/M1*. By the end of the 8th grade, students should know that transformations and transfers of energy within a system usually result in some energy escaping into its surrounding environment. Some systems transfer less energy to their environment than others during these transformations and transfers.
  • 8C/M4*. By the end of the 8th grade, students should know that electrical energy can be generated from a variety of energy resources and can be transformed into almost any other form of energy. Electric circuits are used to distribute energy quickly and conveniently to distant locations.
  • 8C/H7** (SFAA). By the end of the 12th grade, students should know that during any transformation of energy, there is inevitably some dissipation of energy into the environment. In this practical sense, energy gets "used up," even though it is still around somewhere.

11. Common Themes

11A. Systems
  • 11A/M2. By the end of the 8th grade, students should know that thinking about things as systems means looking for how every part relates to others. The output from one part of a system (which can include material, energy, or information) can become the input to other parts. Such feedback can serve to control what goes on in the system as a whole.
  • 11A/H1. By the end of the 12th grade, students should know that a system usually has some properties that are different from those of its parts, but appear because of the interaction of those parts.
11B. Models
  • 11B/M1*. By the end of the 8th grade, students should know that models are often used to think about processes that happen too slowly, too quickly, or on too small a scale to observe directly. They are also used for processes that are too vast, too complex, or too dangerous to study.
  • 11B/M3*. By the end of the 8th grade, students should know that different models can be used to represent the same thing. What model to use depends on its purpose.

Copyright
© Copyright The Concord Consortium

Record Link
<a href="stem-resources/electric-current">The Concord Consortium. Electric Current. Concord: The Concord Consortium, 2010, September 23.</a>

AIP
Electric Current (The Concord Consortium, Concord, 2010, September 23), WWW Document, (http://concord.org/stem-resources/electric-current).

AJP
Electric Current (The Concord Consortium, Concord, 2010, September 23), WWW Document, (http://concord.org/stem-resources/electric-current).

APA
Electric Current. (2010, September 23). Retrieved 2014, April 23, from The Concord Consortium: http://concord.org/stem-resources/electric-current

Disclaimer: The Concord Consortium offers citation styles as a guide only. We cannot offer interpretations about citations as this is an automated procedure.

Requirements

The Java Runtime Environment version 5 (sometimes referred to as 1.5) or later with Java Webstart is required to run any of the activities. You can download it at: java.com.

The download for this activity will require 5 MB of disk space.

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Science of Atoms and MoleculesThis resource is a part of the Concord Consortium's Science of Atoms and Molecules project.

Grade Level
High School
Subject
Physics
Focus Area
Modeling and Simulation
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