The Book

An Introduction to Electricity using Potential Difference

Based on the German original from Junior Professor Jan-Philipp Burde. This book introduces students to electrical circuits using qualitative considerations about the nature of potential difference. Potential difference is established as the cause for current flow and that resistance presents a barrier to the movement of charge. The book:

  • Begins with experiments linking to previous knowledge and everyday experiences.
  • Develops a qualitative analysis using colour coding and everyday language.
  • Continues from the qualitative knowledge as a foundation and introduces mathematical formalism.
The German language version of this book has been shown to improve understanding of the topic in a study of about 700 learners.

Central Analogy

The book uses the central analogy of electric pressure to describe why charge flows between areas of different potentials. It builds on less abstract phenomena visible in everyday life: pumping up a bicycle tyre or breathing through a straw.

Semi-Scientific Language

Semi-scientific language like "electric pressure" allows learners to use language that is linked to the physical processes at hand, while not needing to learn new vocabulary. The words even reinforce the central analogies and a corrent physical interpretation.

Visual Encoding

By using a colour red-to-blue fading colour scheme to represent potential in circuits, learners can immediately encode and decode information about circuits without needing to resort to numbers or three-dimensional images.


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