The Pennies-as-Electrons Analogyby: Scott Ashmann

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Everyday experiences familiarize students with the ways in which electricity is used, but often the underlying concepts remain a mystery. Teachers often use analogies to help students relate the flow of electrons to other common systems, but many times these analogies are incomplete and lead to more student misconceptions. However, the “pass the pennies” activity described in this article was found to actively engage students and help them understand the flow of electrons through a circuit while minimizing scientific misconceptions.

  • Elementary
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Reviews (2)
  • on Fri Oct 24, 2014 11:30 AM

An analogy can be defined as a similarity between like features of two things, on which a comparison may be based. The article uses a more accurate and kinesthetic approach to students learning how electrons move in a wire. It has been proven that students learn in multiple ways. Teachers often don’t allow students to move in the classroom and this procedure, when appropriate, just adds another link to conceptual learning. This is a great exercise to use for upper elementary and into the high school classroom as well as a reintroduction to the concepts of electricity in a physics classroom.

Adah  (San Antonio, TX)
Adah (San Antonio, TX)

  • on Sun Jun 26, 2011 11:09 PM

This article presents a kinesthetic model for the flow of electricity. The author reminds us to be sure to explain to student that the model (he calls it analogy) has limitations - it doesn't really represented what happens perfectly and some of the differences are too difficult for the students to understand (yet). Great explanations - good model, and I want to use this with my middle level students the next time I teach electricity because it does such a good job of representing the concepts or the system of the process!

Tina Harris  (Fairmount, IN)
Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN)

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