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written by Tom Henderson
supported by the National Science Foundation
This a four-part interactive tutorial on the basics of electrostatics, developed for teachers and learners of introductory physics. It introduces electric force in the context of charge interaction and helps build conceptual awareness of charged objects as an imbalance of protons and electrons. After laying the conceptual groundwork, follow-up lessons include charge polarization, methods of charging, Coulomb's Law, and electric field. Each section contains problem sets allowing users to self-test their understanding.
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Electricity & Magnetism
- Electric Fields and Potential
= Electric Field
- Electrostatics
- High School
- Middle School
- Lower Undergraduate
- Collection
- Instructional Material
= Activity
= Tutorial
- Reference Material
- Audio/Visual
= Image/Image Set
Intended Users Formats Ratings
- Learners
- Educators
- text/html
- image/jpeg
- video/quicktime
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Free access
© 1996 Tom Henderson
NSF Number:
Coulomb, charge, charging by friction, conductors, electric field, electric force, grounding, induction, insulators, inverse square relationships, online quizzes, online tutorial, quizzes, static electricity, student activities, student tutorial
Record Cloner:
Metadata instance created June 21, 2010 by Shane Allison
Record Updated:
August 3, 2016 by Lyle Barbato
Last Update
when Cataloged:
August 31, 2010
Other Collections:

AAAS Benchmark Alignments (1993 Version)


D. The Structure of Matter
  • 4D (9-12) #1.  Atoms are made of a positive nucleus surrounded by negative electrons. An atom's electron configuration, particularly the outermost electrons, determines how the atom can interact with other atoms. Atoms form bonds to other atoms by transferring or sharing electrons.
G. Forces of Nature
  • 4G (9-12) #3.  There are two kinds of charges?positive and negative. Like charges repel one another, opposite charges attract. In materials, there are almost exactly equal proportions of positive and negative charges, making the materials as a whole electrically neutral. Negative charges, being associated with electrons, are far more mobile in materials than positive charges are. A very small excess or deficit of negative charges in a material produces noticeable electric forces.
  • 4G (9-12) #4.  Different kinds of materials respond differently to electric forces. In conducting materials such as metals, electric charges flow easily, whereas in insulating materials such as glass, they can move hardly at all. At very low temperatures, some materials become superconductors and offer no resistance to the flow of current. In between these extremes, semiconducting materials differ greatly in how well they conduct, depending on their exact composition.
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AIP Format
T. Henderson, (1996), WWW Document, (
T. Henderson, The Physics Classroom: Static Electricity, (1996), <>.
APA Format
Henderson, T. (2010, August 31). The Physics Classroom: Static Electricity. Retrieved December 2, 2021, from
Chicago Format
Henderson, Tom. The Physics Classroom: Static Electricity. August 31, 2010. (accessed 2 December 2021).
MLA Format
Henderson, Tom. The Physics Classroom: Static Electricity. 1996. 31 Aug. 2010. National Science Foundation. 2 Dec. 2021 <>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Author = "Tom Henderson", Title = {The Physics Classroom: Static Electricity}, Volume = {2021}, Number = {2 December 2021}, Month = {August 31, 2010}, Year = {1996} }
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%A Tom Henderson %T The Physics Classroom: Static Electricity %D August 31, 2010 %U %O text/html

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%0 Electronic Source %A Henderson, Tom %D August 31, 2010 %T The Physics Classroom: Static Electricity %V 2021 %N 2 December 2021 %8 August 31, 2010 %9 text/html %U

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