The Coulomb Train Model (CTM) is a helpful model for both explaining and predicting the behaviour of real electric circuits which I think is suitable for use with KS3 and KS4 students (that’s 11-16 year olds for non-UK educators).
Essentially, the CTM is a donation model akin to the famous ‘bread and bakery van’ or even the ‘penguins and ski lift’ models, but to my mind it has some major advantages over these:
- The trucks (‘coulombs’) in the CTM are linked in a continuous chain. If one ‘coulomb’ stops then they all stop. This helps students grasp why a break anywhere in a circuit will stop all current.
- The CTM presents a simplified but still quantitatively accurate picture of otherwise abstract entities such as coulombs and
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