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Point Charge Electric Field in 1D Model
written by Andrew Duffy
This interactive Java simulation models the electric field at various points along a line. In its simplest form, students can investigate the field using only one test charge and one charged particle. Move the test charge along the line and change the sign and magnitude of charge on the particle to see the resulting effect on the electric field. Taking the concept to the next level, students can add a second charged particle on the line. The electric field is represented in two ways. First, the direction of the force on that test charge appears as a vector. Second, the field may be viewed as a graph that plots the electric field as a function of position. Positive field points to the right; negative to the left.

See Supplemental Documents (below) for a student worksheet developed to accompany this resource.

See Annotations (below) for an interactive student tutorial on electric field that provides additional content support.

This item was created with Easy Java Simulations (EJS), a modeling tool that allows users without formal programming experience to generate computer models and simulations. To run the simulation, simply click the Java Archive file below. To modify or customize the model, SEE RELATED MATERIALS for detailed instructions on installing and running the EJS Modeling and Authoring Tool.
1 supplemental document is available
1 source code document is available
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Electricity & Magnetism
- Electric Fields and Potential
= Electric Field
- Electrostatics
= Coulomb's Law
- High School
- Lower Undergraduate
- Middle School
- Upper Undergraduate
- Instructional Material
= Interactive Simulation
- Audio/Visual
= Movie/Animation
Appropriate Courses Categories Ratings
- Conceptual Physics
- Algebra-based Physics
- AP Physics
- Activity
- Assessment
- New teachers
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Intended Users:
Access Rights:
Free access
This material is released under a GNU General Public License Version 3 license.
Rights Holder:
Andrew Duffy, Boston University
EJS, Easy Java Simulation, charge, charge particles, coulomb's law, electric, electric field, electric field simulation, field
Record Cloner:
Metadata instance created September 2, 2009 by Elijah Lee
Record Updated:
June 13, 2014 by Andreu Glasmann
Last Update
when Cataloged:
August 27, 2009
Other Collections:

AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008 Version)

11. Common Themes

11B. Models
  • 6-8: 11B/M1. Models are often used to think about processes that happen too slowly, too quickly, or on too small a scale to observe directly. They are also used for processes that are too vast, too complex, or too dangerous to study.

AAAS Benchmark Alignments (1993 Version)


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.


B. Models
  • 11B (9-12) #1.  The basic idea of mathematical modeling is to find a mathematical relationship that behaves in the same ways as the objects or processes under investigation. A mathematical model may give insight about how something really works or may fit observations very well without any intuitive meaning.

NSES Content Standards

Con.B: Physical Science
  • 9-12: Motions & Forces
The Physics Classroom: Electric Field (Editor: Caroline Hall)
Date: 07/07/2010

Editor-recommended tutorial to accompany the Easy Java Simulation "Point Charge Electric Field in 1D". It will help students understand "action at a distance" through use of analogies to explain phenomena that occur in the absence of physical contact, such as gravitational attraction and charge interaction. It revisits Coulomb's Law in the context of electric field and concludes with simple problems relating to field strength.
The Physics Classroom: Electric Field (html)

This resource is part of a Physics Front Topical Unit.

Topic: "Static" Electricity
Unit Title: Electric Field

Understanding electric field can be easier if students start with a 1-D representation. This excellent simulation models the electric field at various points along a line. For a very simple version, use only one test charge and one charged particle. For a somewhat more challenging activity, add a second charged particle. Also contains a student worksheet specifically for use with this simulation.

Link to Unit:
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Record Link
AIP Format
A. Duffy, Computer Program POINT CHARGE ELECTRIC FIELD IN 1D MODEL (2008), WWW Document, (http://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=9411&DocID=1574).
A. Duffy, Computer Program POINT CHARGE ELECTRIC FIELD IN 1D MODEL (2008), <http://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=9411&DocID=1574>.
APA Format
Duffy, A. (2008). Point Charge Electric Field in 1D Model [Computer software]. Retrieved January 18, 2017, from http://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=9411&DocID=1574
Chicago Format
Duffy, Andrew. "Point Charge Electric Field in 1D Model." http://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=9411&DocID=1574 (accessed 18 January 2017).
MLA Format
Duffy, Andrew. Point Charge Electric Field in 1D Model. Computer software. 2008. 18 Jan. 2017 <http://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=9411&DocID=1574>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Author = "Andrew Duffy", Title = {Point Charge Electric Field in 1D Model}, Month = {August}, Year = {2009} }
Refer Export Format

%A Andrew Duffy
%T Point Charge Electric Field in 1D Model
%D August 27, 2009
%U http://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=9411&DocID=1574
%O application/java

EndNote Export Format

%0 Computer Program
%A Duffy, Andrew
%D August 27, 2009
%T Point Charge Electric Field in 1D Model
%8 August 27, 2009
%U http://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=9411&DocID=1574

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Point Charge Electric Field in 1D Model:

Is Based On Easy Java Simulations Modeling and Authoring Tool

The Easy Java Simulations Modeling and Authoring Tool is needed to explore the computational model used in the Boston University Physics Easy Java Simulation: Electric Field in 1D.

relation by Wolfgang Christian
Is Supplemented By http://www.physicsclassroom.com/Class/estatics/u8l4a.cfm

An interactive tutorial on electric field, developed for high school physics by The Physics Classroom.

relation by Caroline Hall

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