Buffalo State PHY 690  Using Gravitational (5 pages)
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Using Gravitational
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 School:
 State University of New York College at Buffalo
 Course:
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Using Gravitational Analogies to Introduce Elementary Electrical Field Theory Concepts Susan Saeli and Dan MacIsaac SUNY Buffalo State College Buffalo NY S ince electrical field concepts are usually unfamiliar abstract and difficult to visualize conceptual analogies from familiar gravitational phenomena are valuable for teaching Such analogies emphasize the underlying continuity of field concepts in physics and support the spiral development of student understanding We find the following four tables to be helpful in reviewing gravitational and electrical comparisons after students have worked through hands on activities analyzed via extended student discourse 1 Table I Introductory analogies between gravitational and electrical forces Forces Newton s Universal Gravitational Electrical Comments Matter has a fundamental property called mass measured in kg which has just one sign positive Matter has another fundamental property called charge measured in coulombs which can have two signs positive or negative Hence electric forces can be repulsive or attractive Students may not know that so called antimatter has positive mass but reversed electric charges Fg G m1m2 r2 r force and direction where law of gravi r is a unit vector describing tation and the direction and negative the Coulomb law for elec Some use the phrase gravitational charge for mass to exploit this analogy k describes the gravitational These are point masses and charges or perfect spherical distributions of mass and charge Tinker toy arrangements are later extended to real objects via calculus or symmetry or in magnitude only means attractive Gravitational force is there where in SI units fore always attractive tric forces The magnitude of this force is written Fg G k 9 x 109 N m2 C2 m1m2 r2 r where in SI units G 6 67 x 10 11 N m2 kg2 r m1 q1 q2 r Since G is much smaller than k the gravitational force Fg is usually much weaker than the electrical force Fe have students work both forces for 2 protons and 2
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