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ERIC Number: EJ887953
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-May
Pages: 3
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 3
ISSN: ISSN-0031-921X
The Electron Runaround: Understanding Electric Circuit Basics through a Classroom Activity
Singh, Vandana
Physics Teacher, v48 n5 p309-311 May 2010
Several misconceptions abound among college students taking their first general physics course, and to some extent pre-engineering physics students, regarding the physics and applications of electric circuits. Analogies used in textbooks, such as those that liken an electric circuit to a piped closed loop of water driven by a water pump, do not completely resolve these misconceptions. Mazur and Knight, in particular, separately note that such misconceptions include the notion that electric current on either side of a light bulb in a circuit can be different. Other difficulties and confusions involve understanding why the current in a parallel circuit exceeds the current in a series circuit with the same components, and include the role of the battery (where students may assume wrongly that a dry cell battery is a fixed-current rather than a fixed-voltage device). A simple classroom activity that students can play as a game can resolve these misconceptions, providing an intellectual as well as a hands-on understanding. This paper describes the "Electron Runaround," first developed by the author to teach extremely bright 8-year-old home-schooled children the basics of electric circuits and subsequently altered (according to the required level of instruction) and used for various college physics courses.
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: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A