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The RC circuit with an Olympic twist

Authors: F. Oliveira; J.A. Paix√£o

Ref.: Phys Educ 64(3), 035002:1-9 (2019)

Abstract: Many countries implement competitions in physics for high school students such as the national Physics Olympiads that are often used to select students for participation in the International Physics Olympiad (IPhO), the Asian Physics Olympiad (APhO) or the Ibero-American Physics Olympiad (OIbF). Typically, in these competitions students are requested to solve theory and experimental problems. The latter are usually challenging experiments performed with relatively low-cost equipment. However, these Olympic experiments rarely have widespread dissemination, despite their great potential to be used back in a high-school context, in original form or in an adapted version. A comparative study of the students learning gain of the classical capacitor discharge experiment, a compulsory experiment for Portuguese K-18 (pre-university) students, with an Olympic inspired version using the LM555 timer circuit was performed in seven Portuguese high-schools, involving 175 students. We conclude that the more challenging, Olympic inspired, experiment is rated higher in interest by the students and is more effective in helping students to learn the physics concepts involved in the RC circuit, as gaged by the results of pre- and post-tests.

DOI: 10.1088/1361-6552/ab02bd