Circuit Diagrams: Lost in Rotation…?

e=mc2andallthat

Is there a better way of presenting circuit diagrams to our students that will aid their understanding of potential difference?

I think that, possibly, there may be.

(Note: circuit diagrams produced using the excellent — and free! — web editor at https://www.circuit-diagram.org/.)

Old ways are the best ways…?

This is a very typical way of showing a simple circuit.

A simple circuit as usually presented

Now lets measure the potential difference across the cell…

Measuring the potential difference across the cell

…and across the resistor.

Measuring the potential difference across the resistor

Using a standard school laboratory digital voltmeter and assuming a cell of emf 1.5 V and negligible internal resistance we would get a value of +1.5 volts for both positions.

Let me demonstrate this using the excellent — and free! — pHET circuit simulation website.

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About e=mc2andallthat

Gethyn Jones BSc, PGCE, MCCT is a physics teacher of over 29 years experience who still enjoys teaching (well, most of the time anyway). He lives in London with his lovely wife and two rescue cats. Please follow him on Twitter @emc2andallthat
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