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Name: ann
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I am teaching a unit on electromagnetism to fifth graders. I am also doing a maglev train experiment/race with them. I need to find an elementary way to explain electricity. Can you recommend some books to show me the way and what to explain?

I would suggest using the CASTLE kits with your students. These are available through most scientific supply companies. If that is too much try getting a bunch of GENECON hand crank DC generators. Have your students crank the generators with progressively larger parallel and series circuits. Use light bulbs as the loads. With the parallel circuits the electrical resistance obviously goes down with the addition of each new light bulb, but it gets progressively harder to turn the crank at a constant speed because of the increased demand for current (load). The inverse effect occurs with the series circuit as the electrical resistance gets larger reducing the current and hence the load on the generator. This is all neatly explained with the standard fluid model of electricity. I would stay away from trying to explain this stuff with electric fields to fifth graders. The CASTLE kits use great big (one farad caps. at 25 volts) capacitors to further develop the fluid analogies in electricity and give a sense of concretness, if you will, to something that is essentially invisible. The CASTLE kits come with excellent manuals with worksheets for your students. With some adaptation all of this stuff should work nicely with your fifth graders. Hit my NEWTON mail box if you have any further questions. I am an ex-EE teaching high school physics. By the way; these little generators break rather easily. Make sure your students do not try to crank them too fast and do not let them crank them with the terminals shorted. Have Fun!

Nick P. Drozdoff

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