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Curriculum Chats: Electricity

Previously, we asked on the twitter page which topics in each of the sciences you thought required the most thought in the curriculum. For physics, you (perhaps unsurprisingly) chose the topic of electricity and in the video below, Bill Wilkinson, Ruth Ashbee, Gethyn Jones, and Tom Millichamp get together to discuss just that. Please let us know on the twitter page what your thoughts are: do you agree/disagree with any of the approaches? Has it made you think differently about electricity? Do you have an alternate approach?

You can use the chapters embedded in the video to find any of the specific questions that we discuss (you might need to be on YouTube to actually see them):

  • 00:00 Welcome and introductions
  • 01:08 Why do students find electricity hard and why do teachers find it hard to teach?
  • 05:50 Electricity in the KS2 curriculum
  • 07:30 How do you structure the teaching of electricity in KS3 and KS4?
  • 14:00 The role of the practical in electricity. Do we owe students the chance to experience electricity practicals as a form of cultural capital?
  • 26:10 Series vs parallel circuits
  • 27:00 Static electricity as a starting point?
  • 29:35 Models in the teaching of electric circuits
  • 36:35 The dangers of demos and practicals in electricity
  • 37:31 When do certain models not work?
  • 39:10 The end of models… and getting students to evaluate models
  • 45:10 Building consistency in the teaching of electricity across a department

Below are some links to some of the blogs and articles that we touched upon:

Tom Norris has an excellent blog on the rope model. Gethyn discussed using the rope model in KS3 before progressing to the Coulomb train model in KS4.

Gethyn discussed Engelmann’s ideas of continuous conversion which Tom didn’t even know he was doing when he discussed his approach to making it clear that each loop of a ‘parallel circuit’ draws its own current.

Ben Rogers has a wonderful post on using bar models in the teaching of electricity.

It’s always worth refreshing on the difference between Ohm’s law and V=IR as explained by Science By Degrees.


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