Electricity Explorer by Instructional designWare
Electricity Explorer, geared to students in middle school and high school, consists of a number of components dealing with the simpler concepts of electricity. The program was very easy to use and, once loaded, did not require directions to operate. Students will find many parts of the CD-ROM entertaining as well as challenging. The section titled How Things Work provides a tutorial on the basic concepts of atomic structure, electron flow, electrical laws, and circuits. The tutorial is presented at two levels of difficulty and would make a good review for students who need extra work or have missed a class.
The Meter Reader portion allows students to manipulate circuits of various types and test them for amp, volt, and ohm values. This is presented like an open-ended lab in which the students choose the configuration of the circuit, position the meters, and try the different readings. Once they have become proficient in this area they can move into the Predictions section, which gives them a particular circuit arrangement and asks them to answer a question concerning its values. This could easily be used in a one-computer classroom as a class exercise.
Math skills are required in the exercises using Ohms Law and Kirchoffs Law. A students final level of understanding is tested in the Troubleshooter area, where he or she is presented with a circuit arrangement with a malfunctioning part. The student must determine the problem through testing. This section creates a real challenge for students to work through, either separately or in small groups. A summary of the concepts is presented as a separate section of the program, and a glossary of terms is available, as well. A Quiz Show feature allows the students to test their knowledge about electricity.
Electricity Explorer can be run in English or Spanish. Each screen has written and spoken text available. An instructors guide accompanying the CD-ROM contains hints for its use in the classroom, a users manual, and summaries of all of the material covered in the lessons. This program provides a good set of basic review lessons and some challenging tests for students to carry out as they build their understanding of electricity and circuits.
Suzanne Shaw Drummer
The Ohio State University
This article originally appeared in the 03/01/2000 issue of THE Journal.