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ERIC Number: EJ1168847
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2018-Feb
Pages: 4
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0031-921X
A Fan-Tastic Quantitative Exploration of Ohm's Law
Mitchell, Brandon; Ekey, Robert; McCullough, Roy; Reitz, William
Physics Teacher, v56 n2 p75-78 Feb 2018
Teaching simple circuits and Ohm's law to students in the introductory classroom has been extensively investigated through the common practice of using incandescent light bulbs to help students develop a conceptual foundation before moving on to quantitative analysis. However, the bulb filaments' resistance has a large temperature dependence, which makes them less suitable as a tool for quantitative analysis. Some instructors show that light bulbs do not obey Ohm's law either outright or through inquiry-based laboratory experiments. Others avoid the subject altogether by using bulbs strictly for qualitative purposes and then later switching to resistors for a numerical analysis, or by changing the operating conditions of the bulb so that it is "barely" glowing.6 It seems incongruous to develop a conceptual basis for the behavior of simple circuits using bulbs only to later reveal that they do not follow Ohm's law. Recently, small computer fans were proposed as a suitable replacement of bulbs for qualitative analysis of simple circuits where the current is related to the rotational speed of the fans. In this contribution, we demonstrate that fans can also be used for quantitative measurements and provide suggestions for successful classroom implementation.
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