Many students think that electric current or electric charge (or 'electricity'), rather than energy, is stored in a battery

Electricity and Magnetism


Diagnostic Resources

The following worksheets may help to identify whether students hold this particular misconception.

For more information, see the University of York EPSE website.

Resources to Address This

  • Distinguishing Between Current and Energy (11-14)

    Source - SPT / El01TL11

    This resource discusses how to helpfully distinguish between two different concepts in electric circuits: the movement of electric charge (current) and the depletion of energy from the battery.

    View Resource
  • Series and branching circuits (11-19)

    Source - Practical physics/ Electric circuits and fields/ Current and charge/ ...

    Experiments to show that current (and therefore charge) is conserved around a circuit. They can be teacher demonstrations or student revision experiments

    View Resource
  • Episode 105: Sources of electrical energy (11-19)

    Source - TAP/ Electricity/ Electric current/ ...

    Two fun demonstrations showing that there is nothing special about the chemical substances that are needed to make a battery. Then an exploration of the energy stored in a battery.

    View Resource


The following studies have documented this misconception:

  • Küçüközer, H. and Kocakülah, S. () Secondary School Students' Misconceptions about Simple Electric Circuits. Journal of Turkish Science Education.

    Review sheet

  • Selman, R. L.; Krupa, M. P.; Stone, C. R. and Jaquette, D. S. () Concrete Operational Thought and the Emergence of the Concept of Unseen Force in Children’s Theories of Electromagnetism and Gravity. Science Education, 66 (2),


    Review sheet

  • Dupin, J. J. and Johsua, S. () Conceptions of French pupils concerning electric circuits: Structure and evolution. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 24 (9),


    Review sheet

  • Arnold, M. and Millar, R. () Being constructive: An alternative approach to the teaching of introductory ideas in electricity. International Journal of Science Education, 9 (5),


    Review sheet

  • Koumaras, P.; Kariotoglou, P. and Psillos, D. () Causal structures and counter‐intuitive experiments in electricity. International Journal of Science Education, 19 (6),


    Review sheet

  • Summers, M.; Kruger, C. and Mant, J. () Teaching electricity effectively in the primary school: a case study. International Journal of Science Education, 20 (2),


    Review sheet

  • Borges, A. T. and Gilbert, J. K. () Mental models of electricity. International Journal of Science Education, 21 (1),


    Review sheet

  • Lee, Y. and Law, N. () Explorations in promoting conceptual change in electrical concepts via ontological category shift. International Journal of Science Education, 23 (2),


    Review sheet

  • Leone, M. () History of Physics as a Tool to Detect the Conceptual Difficulties Experienced by Students: The Case of Simple Electric Circuits in Primary Education. Science Education, 23 (4),


    Review sheet

  • Heller, P. M. and Finley, F. N. () Variable Uses of Alternative Conceptions: A Case Study in Current Electricity. Journal of Research in Science Teaching 29 (3),


    Review sheet

  • Chiu, M-H. and Lin, J-W., () Promoting Fourth Graders’ Conceptual Change of Their Understanding of Electric Current via Multiple Analogies, Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 42 (4) 429-464.

    Review sheet

Limit Less Campaign

Support our manifesto for change

The IOP wants to support young people to fulfil their potential by doing physics. Please sign the manifesto today so that we can show our politicians there is widespread support for improving equity and inclusion across the education sector.

Sign today