PHS 531 / PHY 494 – Methods of Teaching Physics II:

Modeling Instruction in Electricity and Magnetism

(summer 2010)


Proposed ASU catalog course description: Teaching high school electricity and magnetism from a microscopic perspective with Modeling Instruction.


Prerequisite: PHS 530 / PHY480


Peer Leader: Michael Crofton Intern: Aaron Debbink

Course hours: 8:00 – 3:30 M-Th, 8:00-12:00 F



Course description and expectations

Overview: The course begins with a review of the basic features of the modeling approach to physics. Teachers are then given sample course materials and work through them.



            The main objective of the 1st summer Modeling Workshop (in mechanics) was to acquaint teachers with all aspects of the modeling method and develop some skill in implementing it. To that end, teachers were provided with a fairly complete set of written curriculum materials to support instruction organized into coherent modeling cycles (as described in Wells et al., 1995). The physical materials and experiments in the curriculum are simple and quite standard, already available in any reasonably equipped physics classroom.

            In this course teachers will review core modeling principles, discuss ways to successfully implement a modeling approach, then work through coherent model-centered materials for high school electricity and magnetism from a microscopic perspective to develop a deep understanding of content and how to teach it effectively. To these ends, they read, discuss, and reflect on related physics education research articles. The primary focus is on first-year physics courses that incorporate algebra and trigonometry.


Rationale: On the first day, teachers will review and discuss experiences of those participants who have taught mechanics by the modeling method. This "post-use analysis" has two purposes: (1) to make experienced teachers explicitly aware of their own teaching practice and how it compares with the modeling method; (2) to help those who have recently completed PHS 530 get a sense of the rewards and difficulties of teaching via this method. The model-centered approach is contrasted to the standard topic-centered approach. There is less emphasis on why we believe that modeling is superior to conventional instruction, since we assume that teachers coming back to take a follow-up course have come to accept this as true.

            To develop familiarity with the materials necessary to fully implement them in the classroom, we find that teachers must work through the activities, discussions and worksheets, alternating between student and teacher modes, much as they did in the 1st Modeling Workshop in Mechanics. This constitutes the rest of the course. Each of the four units in the E & M course manual includes an extensive Teacher Notes section. Throughout the course, teachers are asked to reflect on their practice and how they might apply the techniques they have learned in the course to their own classes.



      You are expected to attend all 15 sessions of this course. If you miss 2 classes, your maximum grade will be a B; if 3, you can earn no higher than a C. Please be on time and ready to go!

Materials: (provided free to Arizona in-service teachers in 2010)

•     You will be provided a manual of instructional materials (teacher notes, labs and worksheets). You will also need a 3-ring binder with dividers to organize these materials.

•     You will need a 9” x 12” quad-ruled lab notebook. This size will allow you to easily tape or paste in data you collect and graphs you produce from the labs you perform during the workshop, as well as your reflections on the activities and readings assigned during the workshop.


Course grade (PHY 494 and PHS 531 except where otherwise noted):

      To earn an “S” or a letter grade of “B”, you will be expected to do the following:

·      Keep a course notebook. You will perform labs in “student mode”. You will be expected to record notes from the pre-lab discussion, record and evaluate data and summarize the findings of the “class” in your lab notebook. Write down notes that will help you when you have students do the lab. Some teachers benefit by writing down good questions asked during whiteboarding. You should also take notes on demonstrations and the concept they are meant to illustrate. Teachers find this notebook to be a valuable resource as they use the curricular materials in their own classes. (50%)

·      Work out all problems and questions on the worksheets and insert them into your 3-ring binder. (10%)

·      Participate actively and thoughtfully in lab whiteboarding sessions, discussion of readings, activities, and problem-solving whiteboarding. (10%)

·      Read excerpts from the Matter and Interactions textbook by Ruth Chabay and Bruce Sherwood and physics education research articles. For each reading you will be expected to write a one-half to one-page reaction (not a synopsis) in which you offer your views about the ideas discussed in the reading assignment. (10%)

·      For each unit, record your reflections on the activities of your team as you work through the materials. (10% for PHS 531, but 20% for PHY 494)

·      (PHS 531 only: not required for PHY 494) On the last Wednesday, turn in a two-page paper describing one of the following; how the Modeling E&M instruction differs from your current practice and what changes you plan to incorporate or the issues with which you will have to deal in order to implement the Modeling Method in your classroom. (10%)


In order to be considered for an “A”, you will be required to complete two additional assignments. They may be chosen from problem sets, developing a lab or practicum, or writing VPython programs.

PHS 531 / PHY 494 syllabus/daily calendar

Week 1


Day 1

AM – Introduce leaders and participants. Distribute workshop materials. Discuss workshop design and course expectations. Debriefing session, CSEM pretest

PMBegin Unit 1. Sticky tape activity

Post-activity (sticky tape) discussion, develop atomic model of matter, charge, conductors and insulators, polarization, worksheet 1

HW - Reading: Sherwood and Chabay: Interaction with neutral matter, conductors and insulators (14.4 and 14.5)


Day 2

AM - Discuss reading

Electrophorus activity, charging by conduction and induction

PM – Do worksheet 2 and whiteboard

Investigate the workings of a Leyden jar

Do electrostatic worksheet and whiteboard

HW – Readings: Sherwood and Chabay: Matter and electric fields


Day 3

AM – Pre-lab discussion of Coulomb’s law lab, collect data, plot F vs r, board meeting on lab

PM – post-lab discussion, discuss variations, do worksheet 3 and whiteboard it, map the electric field as a class, define electric field

HW – Work on lab report


Day 4

AM EM Field exploration using worksheet 4a, discuss

Do worksheet 4 and whiteboard

PM – Do worksheet 5, discuss

Determining electric field using a summation, use VPython to show a summation

Video: The Electric Field and Forces, wrap up E-field

HW – Unit 1 test


Day 5

AM – Begin Unit 2. Stairway activity to introduce potential, define gravitational

and electric potential, derivations, do worksheet 1 and whiteboard

Lab: topographic maps and gravitational potential

Discuss key points of topographic (contour) mapping

Lab: mapping electric potential, collect data, enter into spreadsheet, make graphs, discuss potential mapping lab

HW – Read teacher notes on Unit 1, reflections on Unit 1 in notebook. (Turn notebook in Monday at end of class.)



Week 2


Day 6

AM – Discuss electric potential mapping

Do worksheet 2 and whiteboard (using projector)

EM Field Activity: Exploring Electric Potential

Do worksheet 3 and whiteboard

PM – Do worksheet 4 and whiteboard

Demo/discussion on charge, potential for parallel plates

Lab: Energy stored in a capacitor, collect and analyze data, discussion of lab

Turn in notebook

HW – Read pages 1- 8 and 12-14 of Sherwood and Chabay: Unified Treatment


Day 7

AM – Do worksheet 5 and whiteboard

Do lab extension on series and parallel capacitors and discuss

Take Unit 2 test and whiteboard

Bridging demo to circuits

Physlets for first two units

PM – Begin Unit 3. Lab: What’s Happening in the Wires? – pre-lab discussion, collect and evaluate data for parts 1 and 2, discussion of representations of charge distribution at various times, do worksheet 1 and whiteboard

HW – Reading: Chabay and Sherwood, Matter and Interactions 18.1-18.6 (This is heavy reading!)


Day 8

AM – Do Lab 2: Charge Distribution and Potential Difference, collect and analyze data, post-lab discussion, models of resistance, discuss readings (C/S and surface charge distributions)

Mini-lab: nichrome wire and current

Discuss reading, discuss flow rate vs. drift velocity, discuss E-field and drift velocity, discuss L and R bulb in circuit, transient condition, do worksheet 2 and whiteboard

PM – Ohm’s Law lab with long bulb extension, collect and w/b data

HW – Look over Unit 2 teacher notes and reflect on Unit 2 (due Monday)


Day 9

AM – Lab: resistors in series and parallel, collect and w/b data, post-lab discussion to develop characteristics of each circuit, resistor addition rules

Do worksheet 3 and whiteboard

PM – Do worksheet 4 and whiteboard

Do resistor network addition, practice sheet, circuit practicum

HW – May want to re-read Chabay and Sherwood


Day 10


AM –Discussion of lab practica, do Unit 3 test and whiteboard, take DIRECT diagnostic test, check answers with equipment, go over test

HW – Read Unit 3 teacher notes, reflect on Unit 3 – turn notebook in Monday


Week 3


Day 11

AM – Discuss DIRECT test, whiteboard Unit 3 test

Begin Unit 4. Lab 1: investigation of the magnetic field around a current-carrying wire; collect and whiteboard data, post-lab discussion, RH curl rule

Part 2: quantitative relationships between B, r and I.

Whiteboard B field lab and discuss, demo/discussion of field around a permanent magnet, make solenoid

PM - field direction demos for wire and solenoid, rules for magnetic field direction

Do worksheet 1 and whiteboard

Turn in notebook

HW – Reading for Wednesday: Chabay & Sherwood on Magnetism


Day 12

AM – Demo/discussion: “Oh No! Mr. BIL” and force on charged particle

Lab: Force on current-bearing wire

Whiteboard lab

PM – Do worksheet 2 and whiteboard

Do worksheet 3

HW – Two-page paper, “A” credit problems (due Friday)


Day 13

AM – Discuss reading, Lorentz force and motional EMF
Whiteboard worksheet 3

Build Johnson motors

Do magnetism TIPERS

PM – Introduce motional EMF, flux, Faraday’s and Lenz’s Law, look at demos on laws
Practice with coils and galvanometer

HW – Read Unit 4 teachers notes and do reflection on Unit 4 (due Friday)


Day 14

AM – Review electromagnetic induction
Induction demos

Do worksheet 4 and whiteboard

Make current balances

PM – Do worksheet 5 and whiteboard

Do Mechanics Baseline Test

Turn in notebook


Day 15


AM – Do worksheet 6 and whiteboard

Do Unit 4 test and whiteboard

Practicum sharing (any other sharing?)

CSEM post-test, course evaluation, final paperwork

Distribute CD’s and discuss contents, how to navigate website


Due today: all: Any “A” credit problems, resistor problems, reflection on Unit 4.

PHS 531 students: 2-page paper


Recommended readings for PHS 531 / PHY 494

Ruth W. Chabay and Bruce A. Sherwood, Matter and Interactions, Volume 2: Electric and Magnetic Interactions. John Wiley and Sons, Inc. (Hoboken, NJ). ISBN 978-0-470-50346-1, ©2010, 576 pages (or any earlier edition). Drs. Sherwood and Chabay posted many resources and information on a NCSU distance course for teachers at

B. Sherwood and R. Chabay, “A unified treatment of electrostatics and circuits” (1996),


R. Cohen, B. Eylon, and U. Ganiel, “Potential difference and current in simple electric circuits: a study of students’ concepts”, Am. J. Phys. 51, 407-412 (1983).



Supplemental readings

recommended by Kathy Harper, Ph.D. and other Ohio State University Modeling Instruction leaders


Van Heuvelen, A. & Maloney, D. P., "Playing Physics Jeopardy," Am. J. Phys. 67, 252-256 (1999).

Maloney, D. P., "Ranking Tasks, A New Type of Test Item," Journal of College Science Teaching 510-514 (1987).

Van Heuvelen, A., Allen, L., & Mihas, P., "Experiment Problems for Electricity and Magnetism," The Physics Teacher 37, 482-485 (1999).


“We have the teachers read these three articles, usually three nights in a row, and usually starting around the end of the first week. A day or so after they've read all of them, we have everyone turn in three alternative problems (in any combination of types they wish), and give them feedback.”



N. Fredette and J. Lochhead, "Student Conceptions of Simple Electric Circuits", The Physics Teacher 19, 194-198 (1980) 194-198

David P. Maloney, “Charged poles?” Physics Education 20, 310–316 (1985) (on magnetism)


Both are easy to read and help teachers to think about what might be going on in students' heads when learning these topics.



Bat-Sheva Eylon & Uri Ganiel, "Macro-micro Relationships: the Missing Links", International Journal of Science Education 12(1) 79 - 94 (1990).

This article is a tough read, used only with a fairly experienced group.











May 1, 2010 jj