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Three Point Charges Model
written by Andrew Duffy
The Three Point Charges is an inquiry-based model for exploring the force between charged objects. Initially, the simulation sets up three charged objects, one at each corner of an equilateral triangle. The charges have different magnitudes, represented by force vectors. The charges can be moved, allowing users to test the electric force in a variety of alignments. The student's task is to rank the charges based on their magnitudes, from largest to smallest. After practicing, students then write and share their methods for determining the correct ranking.

See Supplemental Document below for a student worksheet developed specifically to accompany this simulation.  

See Annotations (below) for an interactive student tutorial on Coulomb's Law, which provides additional content support on electric force.

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.

Please note that this resource requires at least version 1.5 of Java (JRE).
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
- 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
Java Archive file
EJS, Easy Java Simulation, Open Source Physics, charge, charge interaction, charge particles, charge simulation, coulomb's law, electric, electric field, electric force, electrostatics modeling, electrostatics simulation, field
Record Cloner:
Metadata instance created April 16, 2010 by Wolfgang Christian
Record Updated:
June 12, 2014 by Andreu Glasmann
Last Update
when Cataloged:
April 16, 2010
Other Collections:

The Physics Classroom: Newton's Laws and the Electrical Force (Author: Tom Henderson)
Date: 06/07/2010

This interactive tutorial fully explains the complex physical situation that exists when three point charges interact. It will help your students understand what is going on at the macro scale and clarify how Newton's Laws can be applied to static electricity phenomena. We suggest introducing it AFTER your students work with the Three Point Charges Model simulation.
The Physics Classroom: Newton's Laws & Electrical Force (html)

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Record Link
AIP Format
A. Duffy, Computer Program THREE POINT CHARGES MODEL (2010), WWW Document, (https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=9975).
A. Duffy, Computer Program THREE POINT CHARGES MODEL (2010), <https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=9975>.
APA Format
Duffy, A. (2010). Three Point Charges Model [Computer software]. Retrieved January 20, 2022, from https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=9975
Chicago Format
Duffy, Andrew. "Three Point Charges Model." https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=9975 (accessed 20 January 2022).
MLA Format
Duffy, Andrew. Three Point Charges Model. Computer software. 2010. Java (JRE) 1.5, Java Archive file.20 Jan. 2022 <https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=9975>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Author = "Andrew Duffy", Title = {Three Point Charges Model}, Month = {April}, Year = {2010} }
Refer Export Format

%A Andrew Duffy %T Three Point Charges Model %D April 16, 2010 %U https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=9975 %O Java Archive file %O application/java %O Java Archive file

EndNote Export Format

%0 Computer Program %A Duffy, Andrew %D April 16, 2010 %T Three Point Charges Model %8 April 16, 2010 %9 Java Archive file %U https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=9975

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Three Point Charges 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 Three Point Charges Model.

relation by Wolfgang Christian

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