History of the Grounded Electron

Materials: None

Time Allotment: 5 Class Days


This makeup lab is unique from most others in that it does not actually involve a laboratory exercise. Rather, this makeup lab involves the completion of a writing assignment which demonstrates your understanding of charging, charge interactions, grounding and electron movement.



Compose a short narrative written in the first-person point of view from the perspective of an electron. The story must center around the places visited by an electron that once lived in an atom of wool and ultimately entered the ground. The electron must visit at least three different locations (e.g., a balloon, a glass rod or plastic strip, an electroscope, an electrophorus plate, a Van de Graaf generator, a person) during its journey from the wool to the ground. For each change in location of the electron, identify, describe, and explain the process (e.g., friction, contact, induction) that caused the location change. Utilize the language of physics in your explanations and accompany each explanation by an effective, well-labeled diagram demonstrating the direction of electron movement. Be creative and have fun as you invent possible paths of movement for such an electron. Consider classroom demonstrations which you saw and laboratory activities which you have performed during this unit.

To improve the appearance of your product, consider completing the diagrams using a graphics/draw program on the computer (or the draw function of an integrated word processor). Then import (or copy and paste) the diagrams into your word processing document.


Your writing assignment/makeup lab will be assessed using the following scoring rubric.

1. "Technical Merit"

Accurately discussed the complete journey of the electron (including four locations); provided accurate explanations of the process by which electrons migrate from one location to another; included effective, well-labeled diagrams for each location change.

0 - 2

May not have included four locations; may not have used the language of physics; the presence of many errors/omissions demonstrate little or no understanding.

3 - 4

Used the language of physics to discuss a four location journey for the electron; tried to explain the processes, yet the presence of a few major errors/omissions demonstrate an incomplete understanding.

5 - 6

Used the language of physics to accurately discuss and explain the e- journey (included four locations); lack of major errors/omissions demonstrate an excellent understanding.

2. "Artistic Expression"

Used creativity in the production of the story line; expressed story in the first-person; reflects an organized and sequential flow of ideas; included neat and legible diagrams.


Either diagrams were absent or the expression of ideas may have been disorganized.

2 - 3

Diagrams may have been absent; expression of ideas may have been disorganized; may not have written in 1st person; may have lacked creativity.



Included neat and legible diagram; story written in the 1st-person; writing was fluent and well-organized; demonstrated creativity.


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This page created by Tom Henderson and last updated on 1/30/98.