I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: teaching electric circuits is hard.
Providing your students with a conceptual model can, in my opinion, be immensely helpful. In recent years, I have used what I call the Coulomb Train Model (CTM). It is essentially a variation on the “stiff chain”-class analogies that some researchers have argued as being particularly useful in developing students’ understanding.
One reason why I like the CTM is that it provides a physical picture to aid students’ comprehension of many of the electrical equations needed at GCSE.
Of course, any analogy or model will have its flaws, but on the whole I think the CTM has fewer than many of its rivals!
Essentially, the CTM pictures an electric circuit as a continuously moving chain of postively-charged “trucks” called coulombs that carry energy from the cell to (say) the bulb. In the diagram below, they…
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