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ERIC Number: EJ1124176
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2017-Jan
Pages: 3
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0031-921X
A Fan-tastic Alternative to Bulbs: Learning Circuits with Fans
Ekey, Robert; Edwards, Andrea; McCullough, Roy; Reitz, William; Mitchell, Brandon
Physics Teacher, v55 n1 p13-15 Jan 2017
The incandescent bulb has been a useful tool for teaching basic electrical circuits, as brightness is related to the current or power flowing through a bulb. This has led to the development of qualitative pedagogical treatments for examining resistive combinations in simple circuits using bulbs and batteries, which were first introduced by James Evans and thoroughly expanded upon by McDermott and others. This paper argues that replacing bulbs with small computer fans leads to similar, if not greater, insight of experimental results that can be qualitatively observed using a variety of senses. The magnitude of current through a fan is related to the frequency of the rotating fan blades, which can be seen, heard, and felt by the students. Experiments using incandescent bulbs only utilize vision, which is not ideal as the human eyes' perception of brightness is skewed because the response to light intensity is logarithmic rather than linear.
American Association of Physics Teachers. One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740. Tel: 301-209-3300; Fax: 301-209-0845; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A