Interactive Electric Fields (with Paper.js)

February 26, 2016

Drag the charges around.

The force field created by the interaction of two electric charges (one positive and one negative). The source is at http://soriki.com/fields/electric/.

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2016. Interactive Electric Fields (with Paper.js), Retrieved June 27th, 2017, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

Circuit Basics

December 30, 2015

Studying voltage and current in circuits can start with two laws of conservation.

  • KCL: Current flow into a node must equal the flow out of the node. (A node is a point on the wire connecting components in a circuit–usually a junction).
(KCL: Kirchoff's Current Law) Current flowing into any point on a circuit is equal to the current flowing out of it, A simple circuit with a voltage source (like a battery) and a resistor.

(KCL: Kirchoff’s Current Law) Current flowing into any point on a circuit is equal to the current flowing out of it, A simple circuit with a voltage source (like a battery) and a resistor.

  • KVC: The sum of all the voltage differences in a closed loop is zero.

KVL: The voltage difference across the battery (9 Volts) plus the voltage difference across the resistor (-9 Volts) is equal to zero.

KVL: The voltage difference across the battery (9 Volts) plus the voltage difference across the resistor (-9 Volts) is equal to zero.

Things get more interesting when we get away from simple circuits.

Current flow into a node (10 A) equals the flow out of the node (7 A + 3 A).

Current flow into a node (10 A) equals the flow out of the node (7 A + 3 A).

Note that the convention for drawing diagrams is that the current move from positive (+) to negative (-) terminals in a battery. This is opposite the actual flow of electrons in a typical wired circuit because the current is a measure of the movement of negatively charged electrons, but is used for historical reasons.

Based on the MIT OpenCourseWare Introduction to Electrical Engineering and Computer Science I Circuits 6.01SC Introduction to Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Spring 2011.

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2015. Circuit Basics, Retrieved June 27th, 2017, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

Static Electricity

February 22, 2014

The attraction of opposite charges.

The attraction of opposite charges.

Balloons are the best way to demonstrate static electrical forces.

Hair attracted to a balloon by static electrical forces.

Hair attracted to a balloon by static electrical forces.

Electrical charge forces pull against gravity.

Electrical charge forces pull against gravity.

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2014. Static Electricity, Retrieved June 27th, 2017, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

Principles of Generators

October 14, 2013

Please don’t take this as an endorsement of energy drinks, especially not for adolescents; they don’t need the extra sugar, caffeine, and who-knows-what. However, it does take a little knowledge of how generators and motors work to get the joke in this ad. I think I’ll ask my middle schoolers to explain what’s going on as a short quiz after we talk about electricity and magnetism.

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2013. Principles of Generators, Retrieved June 27th, 2017, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

Copper Plating

October 11, 2013

As an introduction to ionic compounds, my chemistry students hooked up a dime to an electrode in a copper chloride solution. It’s not exactly copper plating, but the color is quite interesting.

A copper plated dime.

A copper plated dime.

It was also interesting to see how the color of the copper chloride solution changed as well: from a dark to pale blueish green as the copper was extracted by the electrolysis.

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2013. Copper Plating, Retrieved June 27th, 2017, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

Electrolysis with Universal Indicator

February 14, 2013

The universal pH indicator turns red for acids and blue for bases.

Ms. Wilson’s chemistry class did a beautiful electrolysis experiment by mixing a universal pH indicator into the salt solution. The indicator changes color based on how acidic or basic the solution is; we’ve used this behavior to show how blowing bubbles in water increases its acidity.

Changing colors of universal indicator show how blowing bubbles acidifies water (light green-second beaker) from neutral pH (dark green-third beaker) standard. For comparison, the first beaker (red) is acidified while the last beaker (blue) is made alkaline.

In this experiment, when electrodes (graphite pencil “leads”) are placed into salt (NaCl) water and connected to a battery, the sodium (Na) and chloride (Cl) split apart.

NaCl –> Na+ + Cl

The positive sodium ion (Na+) migrates toward the negative electrode, where it gets an electron and precipitates on the electrode as a plating. This is called electroplating and is done to give fake gold and silver jewelry a nice outward appearance.

Similarly, the water (H2O) also dissociates into hydrogen (H+) and hydroxide (OH) ions.

H2O –> H+ + OH

Hydrogen bubbles forming at the negative electrode.

The positive hydrogen ions (H+) go toward the negative electrode where they get an electron from the battery and are liberated as hydrogen gas (when they bond to another hydrogen you get H2 gas). However, releasing the positive hydrogen ion, leaves behind hydroxide ions in the area around the positive electrode.

The opposite happens at the positive electrode, with hydrogen ions left behind in the solution.

Since acidity is a measure of the excess of hydrogen ions in solution (H+), the left behind hydrogen ions make the solution near the positive electrode acidic, which turns the indicator solution red. The OH left near the negative electrode make the solution basic, which shows up as blue with the indicator.

If you gently shake the petri dish you end up with beautiful patterns like this:

Swirls.

And this:

After the electrodes have been disconnected.

Note: if the solution is mixed completely the hydrogen and hydroxide ions react with each other to make water again, the solution neutralizes, and becomes uniform again.

Note 2: This is an experiment that I should also do in physics. It should be interesting for students to see this experiment from two different perspectives to see how the subjects overlap.

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2013. Electrolysis with Universal Indicator, Retrieved June 27th, 2017, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

The Physics of How Microwaves Work

July 3, 2012

An excellent explanation of how microwaves work. It talks about waves (how to determine the frequency and wavelength of microwaves), electricity (magnetrons), heat and temperature.

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2012. The Physics of How Microwaves Work, Retrieved June 27th, 2017, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

Making Motors

January 23, 2012

A simple electric motor.

Our exercise in building simple electric motors was quite a success.

Students enjoyed doing it, even though it was challenging making the coil just right so it would spin easily. They persisted and enjoyed that wonderful eureka moment when it actually worked.

Motor Speed

One group wanted to figure out how fast the armature was spinning. Because of small imperfections inherent to hand-made parts, we found that the armatures would bounce, ever so slightly, with each rotation. So the students recorded the sound using their laptop, and then counted rotations off the recorded sound wave. I think they came up with about 10 rotations per second.

I need to check if there’s a free phone app we can use that will show the sound waveform more efficiently — Pocket WavePad seems like it might work.

Accidental arc welding

At the end, some students wanted to figure out just how fast they could get the motor running. Disdaining the online instructions, they went for more power, hooking up all the batteries they could scavenge from the other groups before I had to make them stop. They did manage to weld the insulating varnish on the coil wire to the paperclip contact before the end.

All the sparks did lead to a discussion of how arc welding works, however, which I was able to tie into the maths of transformers; cheaper arc welders (like this one) take in 20 Amps at 120 Volts, and output 70 Amps at 22 Volts.

This group did not want to stop, so I gave them permission to pass on P.E. for that one day, with a note that said they were doing some “remedial” physics. They got a kick out of that.

Diagram showing the parts of a simple motor.

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2012. Making Motors, Retrieved June 27th, 2017, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

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