Gizmo of the Week: Charge Launcher

Opposite charges attract, while like charges repel. This fundamental principle is explored in a fun way in the Charge Launcher Gizmo. In the Gizmo, students fire a charged particle into a grid that is populated by other charged particles. The particle will follow a trajectory that depends on its initial speed and the arrangement of the other particles.

Once students have mastered the basics of how speed and charge affect the path of the launched particle, the fun begins. By turning on “Show challenges,” students are challenged to arrange the grid particles so that the launched particle will follow a particular path. The challenges range from fairly easy to downright diabolical. As they solve each challenge, students gain qualitative insight into how forces change with distance and how speed affects how much the path will be bent by a force.

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