Electrical Circuit
Electricity and Magnetism

What fixes how big or small the electric current is?

Teaching Guidance for 11-14 Supporting Physics Teaching

The battery gives a current

Wrong Track: The current flowing in the circuit is 2 ampere. The battery is giving a current of 2 ampere.

Right Lines: The current in the circuit is 2 ampere. This rate of flow of charge is fixed by choosing the battery and the lamp, so the voltage and the resistance.

The circuit as a system

Thinking about the learning

Having been introduced to the idea of measuring electric currents, some pupils see the battery as providing a fixed current. This incorrect line of thinking may be linked to the earlier wrong track idea that the current originates in the battery.

Thinking about the teaching

You should always talk so that the pupils see the circuit as a whole system with the charge being set in motion by the battery and any resistance in the circuit acting to impede that motion. So do try to avoid any discussion of the current moving from place of place, or splitting.

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