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This newer HTML5 simulation offers beginners a way to visualize the electrostatic force that two charges exert on each other. It was developed to promote understanding of these key concepts: 1) Opposite charges attract and like charges repel; 2) Magnitude of force is related to the the quantity of charge and the distance between the interacting objects; and 3) Newton's Third Law is applicable to electrostatic forces. Teachers can use this model as a scaffold for investigating the mathematics that underlies Coulomb's Law. It is appropriate for introductory physics courses.

This resource is part of a growing collection of simulations by the Physics Education Technology Project (PhET).
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Electricity & Magnetism
- Electric Fields and Potential
= Electrostatic Force
- Electrostatics
= Coulomb's Law
- High School
- Middle School
- Lower Undergraduate
- Instructional Material
= Activity
= Interactive Simulation
Appropriate Courses Categories Ratings
- Physical Science
- Physics First
- Conceptual Physics
- Algebra-based Physics
- AP Physics
- Activity
- New teachers
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Intended Users:
Learner
Educator
Format:
text/html
Access Rights:
Free access
License:
This material is released under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license. Additional information is available.
Rights Holder:
University of Colorado at Boulder
Keywords:
Coulomb force, attractive force, charge interaction, charge magnitude, electrostatic force, repulsive force
Record Cloner:
Metadata instance created December 28, 2018 by Caroline Hall
Record Updated:
December 28, 2018 by Caroline Hall
Last Update
when Cataloged:
October 30, 2018

Next Generation Science Standards

Motion and Stability: Forces and Interactions (MS-PS2)

Students who demonstrate understanding can: (6-8)
  • Ask questions about data to determine the factors that affect the strength of electric and magnetic forces. (MS-PS2-3)

Motion and Stability: Forces and Interactions (HS-PS2)

Students who demonstrate understanding can: (9-12)
  • Use mathematical representations of Newton's Law of Gravitation and Coulomb's Law to describe and predict the gravitational and electrostatic forces between objects. (HS-PS2-4)

Disciplinary Core Ideas (K-12)

Structure and Properties of Matter (PS1.A)
  • The structure and interactions of matter at the bulk scale are determined by electrical forces within and between atoms. (9-12)
Types of Interactions (PS2.B)
  • Electric and magnetic (electromagnetic) forces can be attractive or repulsive, and their sizes depend on the magnitudes of the charges, currents, or magnetic strengths involved and on the distances between the interacting objects. (6-8)
  • Newton's law of universal gravitation and Coulomb's law provide the mathematical models to describe and predict the effects of gravitational and electrostatic forces between distant objects. (9-12)

Crosscutting Concepts (K-12)

Patterns (K-12)
  • Patterns can be used to identify cause and effect relationships. (6-8)
Cause and Effect (K-12)
  • Cause and effect relationships can be suggested and predicted for complex natural and human designed systems by examining what is known about smaller scale mechanisms within the system. (9-12)
Systems and System Models (K-12)
  • Models can be used to represent systems and their interactions—such as inputs, processes and outputs— and energy, matter, and information flows within systems. (6-8)
Structure and Function (K-12)
  • The functions and properties of natural and designed objects and systems can be inferred from their overall structure, the way their components are shaped and used, and the molecular substructures of its various materials. (9-12)

NGSS Science and Engineering Practices (K-12)

Developing and Using Models (K-12)
  • Modeling in 6–8 builds on K–5 and progresses to developing, using and revising models to describe, test, and predict more abstract phenomena and design systems. (6-8)
    • Develop and use a model to describe phenomena. (6-8)
  • Modeling in 9–12 builds on K–8 and progresses to using, synthesizing, and developing models to predict and show relationships among variables between systems and their components in the natural and designed worlds. (9-12)
    • Use a model based on evidence to illustrate the relationships between systems or between components of a system. (9-12)
Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking (5-12)
  • Mathematical and computational thinking at the 9–12 level builds on K–8 and progresses to using algebraic thinking and analysis, a range of linear and nonlinear functions including trigonometric functions, exponentials and logarithms, and computational tools for statistical analysis to analyze, represent, and model data. Simple computational simulations are created and used based on mathematical models of basic assumptions. (9-12)
    • Use mathematical representations of phenomena to describe explanations. (9-12)

NGSS Nature of Science Standards (K-12)

Developing and Using Models (K-12)
  • Modeling in 6–8 builds on K–5 and progresses to developing, using and revising models to describe, test, and predict more abstract phenomena and design systems. (6-8)
  • Modeling in 9–12 builds on K–8 and progresses to using, synthesizing, and developing models to predict and show relationships among variables between systems and their components in the natural and designed worlds. (9-12)
Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking (5-12)
  • Mathematical and computational thinking at the 9–12 level builds on K–8 and progresses to using algebraic thinking and analysis, a range of linear and nonlinear functions including trigonometric functions, exponentials and logarithms, and computational tools for statistical analysis to analyze, represent, and model data. Simple computational simulations are created and used based on mathematical models of basic assumptions. (9-12)

This resource is part of a Physics Front Topical Unit.


Topic: "Static" Electricity
Unit Title: Electric Force

This newer mobile-friendly PhET sim lets students use either a macroscopic or atomic-scale view to investigate variables that affect the electrostatic force between two charged objects. Key takeaways: 1) Opposite charges attract and like charges repel; 2) Magnitude of force is related to quantity of charge and distance between the interacting objects; and 3) Newton's Third Law is applicable to electrostatic forces. Teachers: This model could be a great way to help your students explore why Coulomb's Law works mathematically.

Link to Unit:
ComPADRE is beta testing Citation Styles!

Record Link
AIP Format
, Version 1.02 (PhET, Boulder, 2018), WWW Document, (https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/coulombs-law).
AJP/PRST-PER
PhET Simulation: Coulomb's Law, , Version 1.02 (PhET, Boulder, 2018), <https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/coulombs-law>.
APA Format
PhET Simulation: Coulomb's Law. (2018, October 30). Retrieved January 23, 2019, from PhET: https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/coulombs-law
Chicago Format
PhET. PhET Simulation: Coulomb's Law. Boulder: PhET, October 30, 2018. https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/coulombs-law (accessed 23 January 2019).
MLA Format
PhET Simulation: Coulomb's Law. Vers. 1.02. Boulder: PhET, 2018. 30 Oct. 2018. 23 Jan. 2019 <https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/coulombs-law>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Title = {PhET Simulation: Coulomb's Law}, Publisher = {PhET}, Volume = {2019}, Number = {23 January 2019}, Month = {October 30, 2018}, Year = {2018} }
Refer Export Format

%T PhET Simulation: Coulomb's Law
%D October 30, 2018
%I PhET
%C Boulder
%U https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/coulombs-law
%O 1.02
%O text/html

EndNote Export Format

%0 Electronic Source
%D October 30, 2018
%T PhET Simulation: Coulomb's Law
%I PhET
%V 2019
%N 23 January 2019
%7 1.02
%8 October 30, 2018
%9 text/html
%U https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/coulombs-law


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Citation Source Information

The AIP Style presented is based on information from the AIP Style Manual.

The APA Style presented is based on information from APA Style.org: Electronic References.

The Chicago Style presented is based on information from Examples of Chicago-Style Documentation.

The MLA Style presented is based on information from the MLA FAQ.

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