What ideas do students have about charge transfer?

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Episode 103: Jump up University of Maryland

Research suggests that students have many productive ideas about electrostatic charge, and with appropriate support can build a sophisticated model. What ideas do students have about electrostatic charge transfer?

July 3, 2018

Pedagogy Content
Attending to student ideas
Physics Content

Lesson Contents (3 MB)Student Handout
Transcript, discussion questions, and problem

(1 MB)Specific Lesson Guide
Facilitator's guide for this lesson

(1 MB)General Facilitator's Guide
Background and best practices

(158 MB)Video
Captioned video


Sample Discussion Prompts

  1. What struck you about this episode? Talk to the person next to you about what got your attention.

  2. Explain the idea that Amy and Deb agree on in lines 4-11. Do you see their explanation as being correct and complete, or is there more you would like to hear to feel sure of their understanding?

  3. Bridget recalls a lecture demonstration in which a rubbed balloon stuck to a wall. What is her idea about the electrostatics responsible for that phenomenon? Note her gesture.

  4. Deb has her doubts about Bridget’s explanation of balloon-sticking. Has she understood what Bridget was suggesting? What problem does she see with the explanation? Is her rebuttal definitive or might Bridget’s model still be correct?

  5. Caleb does something that the tutorial does not request: he proposes a mechanism for how charge gets from one object to another. What is the mechanism that he proposes (and other students contribute to)? How does it compare to the scientifically-accepted mechanism for charge transfer as you understand it? (If you don’t know the details of the mechanism, you are in good company.)

  6. Two LAs who are pretty sure there is a problem with the “excitation” idea are discussing whether it matters. After reading their exchange, share what you think.

    Linda: “Someone should tell Caleb that he’s confusing electrostatics with quantum mechanics.”

    Lucy: “Nah. Why stress him out? The tutorial doesn’t ask him anything about the mechanism of charge transfer. And thank goodness, because I’m not sure even the condensed matter people could tell you exactly what’s going on.”

    Linda: “But they’re wrong, and they don’t know it. It’s not fair for LAs to let students
    leave tutorial with wrong answers.”

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Colorado LA Pedagogy Course21 LESSONS Best of Periscope11 LESSONS Student ideas14 LESSONS

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