This is a sample page from the course "Electricity and Magnetism" -- an online course (or professional development opportunity) for elementary and middle school teachers. For more information about this course and the program to which it belongs, see the page" Welcome to the Virtual Workshop on Electricity and Magnetism. The following pages will guide you through a series of hands-on activities on this interesting (electrifying, even!) subject. Click here to learn more about the Virtual Workshops.

In addition to these pages, you will need a copy of the Electricity and Magnetism manual, and a kit of materials (motors and buzzers and other electrical gadgets) so that you can do the activities. Please note that it is very much our idea that you will learn science by doing science. For information on how to obtain the manual and kit, please see our web page. These Hands-On Virtual courses can be taken by elementary and middle school teachers for professional development credit or graduate credit.

The Department of Physics & Astronomy/ University of Kentucky announces the first in a series of graduate courses for inservice teachers on physical science topics: "Light", "Temperature and Heat", Electricity and Magnetism", and "Forces and Energy." These emphasize hands-on activities to be done in a distance learning format, in which small groups of teachers will do the activities at their own sites on their own schedule, directed and aided by a set of web pages. It is estimated that each course will involve 30 hours of activity.
You can preview the Light course at 
You can preview the Temperature and Heat course at 
Project development is supported by the Fund for Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE, a US Dept of Education project).
These courses may be taken for professional development credit or for graduate credit (1 semester-hour for each 30-hour course) 
Contact: Sally A. Shafer
(859) 257-5131

Joe Straley & Sally Shafer

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Here are the main divisions of our presentation. We suggest you work through this in the order given. However, some of this (sections labelled About ...) is stuff for you to read (best done individually), while some is activities for you to do (best done in a small group) -- you can jump around on the menu if it makes sense for your schedules.

General Introduction Please see this page first!

Learning objectives for the Virtual Workshop on Electricity and Magnetism
Flowing fluids a siphon
Flowing electricity using a paper clip as a resistor
Direction of electrical current
  • Exploring current direction
  • The buzzer
  • The light-emitting diode
  • Science content: current direction
  • Discussion of current direction
current has a direction, just like traffic
Electrical energy sources: batteries and capacitors
  • Exploring voltage
  • Making a battery
  • Capacitor
  • Science content: Sources of electrical energy
  • Discussion of batteries and capacitors
a big capacitor
  • Conductors and insulators
  • Resistors
  • Resistors and capacitors
  • About resistance
  • Discussion of electrical resistance
resistors of various sizes
Electrical circuits
  • Exploring circuits
  • Series circuits and parallel circuits
  • More circuits
  • Science content: about circuits
  • Discussion of circuits
a simple circuit for a house
The magnetic field
  • The compass
  • Mapping the magnetic field
  • Mapping the magnetic field, continued
  • Science content: the magnetic field
  • Discussion of the magnetic field
a compass points towards a magnet
  • Exploring magnets
  • Interaction of magnets
  • Range of the magnetic force
  • Behavior of iron
  • Science content: magnets and magnetism
  • Discussion of magnetism
a magnet holds a paper clip
  • Currents and magnetism
  • Making an electromagnet
  • Making a motor
  • Inducing a voltage
  • Science content: how electricity and magnetism are related
  • Discussion of electromagnetism
a home-made motor


Other useful pages