Electrical Circuit
Electricity and Magnetism

Topic mapping electric circuits

Classroom Activity for 14-16 Supporting Physics Teaching

What the Activity is for

Making topic maps to reinforce and explore understanding.

The ideas in electric circuits are particularly densely connected. It is therefore a particularly rich area for topic mapping, where the quantity of (correct) interconnections is a guide to the student's understanding.

What to Prepare

  • a set of ideas to cut out and link

What Happens During this Activity

Pencil and paper provide the most flexible medium for this activity, but having a number of ideas ready cut out facilitates rethinking arrangements, particularly if there are several students working on the same map. Once an arrangement has been agreed then it is worth copying the ideas to paper and drawing in the links. It's the discussion and resulting clarification that are important, rather than the finished artefact, although there is much value in producing a reasonable display copy so that the similarities and differences between the different maps can be appreciated – so leading to more discussion.

It's a good idea to mix in one or two physical things, such as cells, lamps or resistors, with the physical quantities, such as potential difference and resistance. An alternative is to mix in some electrical units, such as ampere and ohm.

Here are some suggested lists:

  • Power; energy; time; potential difference; lamp; current.
  • Resistance; series connections; parallel connections; current; potential difference; lamp; brightness.
  • Power; watt; current; ampere; potential difference; volt; energy; joule; time; second.
  • Cell; battery; lamp; current; potential difference; resistance.

You'll want to adapt these in the light of what best challenges your class.

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