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Modeling Instruction in Microscopic Electricity and Magnetism- Summer 2020 is a Course

Modeling Instruction in Microscopic Electricity and Magnetism- Summer 2020

Ended Jun 26, 2020

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Full course description


June 8, 2020


3 Weeks






What you'll learn:

Teachers deepen their understanding of Modeling Instruction as a systematic approach to design of curriculum and instruction, in the context of electricity and magnetism from a microscopic perspective. Content for an entire semester course is reorganized around models to increase its structural coherence. Teachers use data collection technology to collect, organize, analyze, visualize and model real data.

Course objectives:

Teachers review core modeling principles, discuss ways to successfully implement Modeling Instruction, then work through coherent model-centered materials for 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 focus is on first-year physics courses that incorporate algebra and trigonometry in high school and community college.

Course plan:

Teachers work through activities, discussions and worksheets, alternating between student and teacher modes, much as they did in the mechanics Modeling Instruction course. Throughout the course, teachers are asked to reflect on their practice and how they might apply the techniques they learn in the course to their own classes. While the class is facilitated as a Modeling Instruction classroom, and teacher discussions focus on how to facilitate E&M content through modeling pedagogy, priority is not placed on direct instruction for how to facilitate a modeling classroom (i.e. this is now "What is Modeling?" and not a "How to Model For Beginners" course).

Course content:

  • Unit 1: Charge and field - We begin with the study of electric charge and different methods of charging matter electrically. Next we determine relationships for the force between two charged particles. We finish by defining the electric field, investigating the electric field produced by charged particles and collections of charged particles, and determining the force on a charged object by a field.
  • Unit 2: Potential - We delve into concepts of electrical energy and electric potential. We make topographic maps to help develop an understanding of equipotential lines. We learn whether energy is transferred into or out of an electric field when a charged particle is moved in the field, along with whether or not the object has been moved through a change in potential (potential difference).
  • Unit 3: Circuits - We develop a surface charge model as the causal agent for steady state circuits. We continue to use the concept of the electric field but now we relate it to circuit behavior. We then experimentally determine the relationship of potential difference and current for a circuit, after which we investigate circuits with series and parallel resistors.
  • Unit 4: Magnetism - We investigate the magnetic field around a current-bearing wire, then look a fields of permanent magnets. We then delve into the magnetic force on a charged particle and on a current-bearing wire. (If a fact-to-face course, we make a motor, taking advantage of this force.) We study the behavior of charged particles in magnetic and electric fields. We finish by studying electromagnetic induction. We study Faraday's Law conceptually and mathematically.

What you'll receive:

Certificate (in pdf) showing Continuing Education Units earned.


A three-week (~90 contact hour) Modeling Workshop in mechanics.

Limited spaces in the classroom are available. To apply for a space, please e-mail

*If you are an arizona teacher and you must pay out of pocket and cannot get reimbursed, please email for a coupon code that will give you 50% off the price of the course.


Meeting Details

June 8, 2020 through June 26, 2020

MTWRF: 8:00am - 11:00 am


Online - iCourse