Electrical Circuit
Electricity and Magnetism

Care with phrases

Physics Narrative for 14-16 Supporting Physics Teaching

Be consistent and careful in your choice of prepositions

Here are some phrases where we think consistency pays off: consistent use of the following will help children to head along the right lines.

Teacher Tip: … potential difference across X…

Teacher Tip: … current in Y…

Teacher Tip: … power dissipated by X…

Teacher Tip: … energy shifted by Y…

As the job of the prepositions (across, by, in) is to contextualise the named objects, you should not use them interchangeably. In electricity and energy, this is perhaps particularly important because many of the things that you want to locate are intangible, so anything that can help the imagination should be exploited.

When discussing physical circuits, as above, aim always to have a circuit (physical or diagram) so that you can support these phrases by pointing to objects or their representations, to reduce ambiguity.

Always try to communicate with more than words

When discussing situations using the ideas in energy, you may not have any physical object in mind. In particular, pathways and stores may not be associated with any one physical object. So we suggest that it's even more important and helpful to be precise about language:

Teacher Tip: … energy shifted to a store…

(Perhaps, in being slightly more relaxed, one might say, energy in a store, really meaning the energy that has been added to or subtracted from the store.)

Teacher Tip: … power in a pathway…

Support this with clear diagrams or models, where appropriate. We will give examples of this.

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