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An analogy for Drude´s free electron model to promote students understanding of electric circuits in lower secondary school

Authors: Maria José B. M de Almeida, Andreia Salvador, Maria Margarida R. R. Costa


Abstract: Aiming at a deep understanding of some basic concepts of electric circuits in lower secondary schools, this work introduces an analogy between the behavior of children playing in a school yard with a central lake, subject to different conditions, rules, and stimuli, and Drude´s free electron model of metals. Using this analogy from the first school contacts with electric phenomena, one can promote students´ understanding of concepts such as electric current, the role of generators, potential difference effects, energy transfer, open and closed circuits, resistances, and their combinations in series and parallel. One believes that through this analogy well-known previous misconceptions of young students about electric circuit behaviors can be overcome. Furthermore, students´ understanding will enable them to predict, and justify with self-constructed arguments, the behavior of different elementary circuits. The students´ predictions can be verified-as a challenge of self-produced understanding schemes-using laboratory experiments. At a preliminary stage, our previsions were confirmed through a pilot study with three classrooms of 9th level Portuguese students.

DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevSTPER.10.020118