Electric and gravitational fields

This list covers a topic that is usually taught in upper 6th physics lessons.

It is useful if students can recognise that fields are part of the model to explain forces acting at a distance and that they recognise how diagrams are used to represent the strength of these fields. Students will have some qualitative ideas about gravitational and electric fields from GCSE, when they meet the idea of gravity and electrostatics. However, they may not have met the idea of the field lines in relation to these two fields or the quantitative relationships.

It is possible to demonstrate electric fields using a variety of demonstrations, some of which are described in the items in this list.

The list also contains items which have problems that students can answer, tutorial videos that can be found on youtube and simulations that can be used to explore the quantitative relationships in electric and gravitational fields.

Learning opportunities included within this list cover:

  • force fields, concept and definition
  • gravitational force and inverse square field for point (or spherical) masses
  • electric force and field for point (or spherical) charges in a vacuum
  • electric and gravitational potential and changes in potential energy
  • uniform electric field
  • similarities and differences between electric and gravitational fields

Whilst this list provides a source of information and ideas for experimental work, it is important to note that recommendations can date very quickly. Do NOT follow suggestions which conflict with current advice from CLEAPSS or recent safety guides. eLibrary users are responsible for ensuring that any activity, including practical work, which they carry out is consistent with current regulations related to Health and Safety and that they carry an appropriate risk assessment. Further information is provided in our Health and Safety guidance.