This package for introductory physics features nine interactive models to explore electrostatics. Students will use a game-like environment to explore attraction/repulsion, investigate Coulomb's Law at the atomic scale, learn about polarization, and visualize how a material that does not hold any net charge can be attracted to a charged object. Each model is accompanied by a question set with answers provided. Registered users have access to a "Snapshot" tool and a platform to share annotated albums (registration is free for teachers).
This resource is part of the Concord Consortium, a nonprofit research and development organization dedicated to transforming education through technology.
Motion and Stability: Forces and Interactions (HS-PS2)
Students who demonstrate understanding can: (9-12)
Use mathematical representations of Newton's Law of Gravitation and Coulomb's Law to describe and predict the gravitational and electrostatic forces between objects. (HS-PS2-4)
Disciplinary Core Ideas (K-12)
Structure and Properties of Matter (PS1.A)
Each atom has a charged substructure consisting of a nucleus, which is made of protons and neutrons, surrounded by electrons. (9-12)
The structure and interactions of matter at the bulk scale are determined by electrical forces within and between atoms. (9-12)
A stable molecule has less energy than the same set of atoms separated; one must provide at least this energy in order to take the molecule apart. (9-12)
Types of Interactions (PS2.B)
Forces that act at a distance (electric, magnetic, and gravitational) can be explained by fields that extend through space and can be mapped by their effect on a test object (a charged object, or a ball, respectively). (6-8)
Attraction and repulsion between electric charges at the atomic scale explain the structure, properties, and transformations of matter, as well as the contact forces between material objects. (9-12)
Crosscutting Concepts (K-12)
Cause and Effect (K-12)
Cause and effect relationships can be suggested and predicted for complex natural and human designed systems by examining what is known about smaller scale mechanisms within the system. (9-12)
Systems and System Models (K-12)
When investigating or describing a system, the boundaries and initial conditions of the system need to be defined and their inputs and outputs analyzed and described using models. (9-12)
Models (e.g., physical, mathematical, computer models) can be used to simulate systems and interactions—including energy, matter, and information flows—within and between systems at different scales. (9-12)
NGSS Science and Engineering Practices (K-12)
Analyzing and Interpreting Data (K-12)
Analyzing data in 9–12 builds on K–8 and progresses to introducing more detailed statistical analysis, the comparison of data sets for consistency, and the use of models to generate and analyze data. (9-12)
Analyze data using computational models in order to make valid and reliable scientific claims. (9-12)
Developing and Using Models (K-12)
Modeling in 9–12 builds on K–8 and progresses to using, synthesizing, and developing models to predict and show relationships among variables between systems and their components in the natural and designed worlds. (9-12)
Develop and use a model based on evidence to illustrate the relationships between systems or between components of a system. (9-12)
Use a model to provide mechanistic accounts of phenomena. (9-12)
Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information (K-12)
Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information in 9–12 builds on K–8 and progresses to evaluating the validity and reliability of the claims, methods, and designs. (9-12)
Communicate scientific ideas (e.g. about phenomena and/or the process of development and the design and performance of a proposed process or system) in multiple formats (including orally, graphically, textually, and mathematically). (9-12)
Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking (5-12)
Mathematical and computational thinking at the 9–12 level builds on K–8 and progresses to using algebraic thinking and analysis, a range of linear and nonlinear functions including trigonometric functions, exponentials and logarithms, and computational tools for statistical analysis to analyze, represent, and model data. Simple computational simulations are created and used based on mathematical models of basic assumptions. (9-12)
Use mathematical representations of phenomena to describe explanations. (9-12)
AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008 Version)
4. The Physical Setting
4D. The Structure of Matter
9-12: 4D/H1. 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.
9-12: 4D/H2. The number of protons in the nucleus determines what an atom's electron configuration can be and so defines the element. An atom's electron configuration, particularly the outermost electrons, determines how the atom can interact with other atoms. Atoms form bonds to other atoms by transferring or sharing electrons.
4G. Forces of Nature
6-8: 4G/M5. A charged object can be charged in one of two ways, which we call either positively charged or negatively charged. Two objects that are charged in the same manner exert a force of repulsion on each other, while oppositely charged objects exert a force of attraction on each other.
9-12: 4G/H2b. At the atomic level, electric forces between electrons and protons in atoms hold molecules together and thus are involved in all chemical reactions.
9-12: 4G/H3. Most materials have equal numbers of protons and electrons and are therefore electrically neutral. In most cases, a material acquires a negative charge by gaining electrons and acquires a positive charge by losing electrons. Even a tiny imbalance in the number of protons and electrons in an object can produce noticeable electric forces on other objects.
9-12: 4G/H8. The motion of electrons is far more affected by electrical forces than protons are because electrons are much less massive and are outside of the nucleus.
11. Common Themes
6-8: 11B/M1. 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.
6-8: 11B/M4. Simulations are often useful in modeling events and processes.
6-8: 11D/M3. Natural phenomena often involve sizes, durations, and speeds that are extremely small or extremely large. These phenomena may be difficult to appreciate because they involve magnitudes far outside human experience.
12. Habits of Mind
12B. Computation and Estimation
9-12: 12B/H1. Use appropriate ratios and proportions, including constant rates, when needed to make calculations for solving real-world problems.
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