computer Mathematica Activity

30 min.

Visualising the Gradient
Static Fields 2022 (5 years)

Gradient Sequence

Students use prepared Sage code to predict the gradient from contour graphs of 2D scalar fields.

group Small Group Activity

30 min.

Scalar Surface and Volume Elements
Static Fields 2022 (6 years)

Integration Sequence

Students use known algebraic expressions for length elements \(d\ell\) to determine all simple scalar area \(dA\) and volume elements \(d\tau\) in cylindrical and spherical coordinates.

This activity is identical to Vector Surface and Volume Elements except uses a scalar approach to find surface, and volume elements.

computer Mathematica Activity

30 min.

Using Technology to Visualize Potentials
Static Fields 2022 (5 years)

electrostatic potential visualization

Begin by prompting the students to brainstorm different ways to represent a three dimensional scalar field on a 2-D surface (like their paper or a whiteboard). The students use a pre-made Sage code or a Mathematica worksheet to visualize the electrostatic potential of several distributions of charges. The computer algebra systems demonstrates several different ways of plotting the potential.

group Small Group Activity

30 min.

Number of Paths

E&M Conservative Fields Surfaces

Student discuss how many paths can be found on a map of the vector fields \(\vec{F}\) for which the integral \(\int \vec{F}\cdot d\vec{r}\) is positive, negative, or zero. \(\vec{F}\) is conservative. They do a similar activity for the vector field \(\vec{G}\) which is not conservative.

assignment Homework

Find Area/Volume from \(d\vec{r}\)
Static Fields 2022 (4 years)

Start with \(d\vec{r}\) in rectangular, cylindrical, and spherical coordinates. Use these expressions to write the scalar area elements \(dA\) (for different coordinate equals constant surfaces) and the volume element \(d\tau\). It might help you to think of the following surfaces: The various sides of a rectangular box, a finite cylinder with a top and a bottom, a half cylinder, and a hemisphere with both a curved and a flat side, and a cone.

  1. Rectangular: \begin{align} dA&=\\ d\tau&= \end{align}
  2. Cylindrical: \begin{align} dA&=\\ d\tau&= \end{align}
  3. Spherical: \begin{align} dA&=\\ d\tau&= \end{align}

assignment_ind Small White Board Question

10 min.

Electrostatic Potential Due to a Point Charge
Static Fields 2022

Warm-Up

assignment Homework

Divergence through a Prism
Static Fields 2022 (5 years)

Consider the vector field \(\vec F=(x+2)\hat{x} +(z+2)\hat{z}\).

  1. Calculate the divergence of \(\vec F\).
  2. In which direction does the vector field \(\vec F\) point on the plane \(z=x\)? What is the value of \(\vec F\cdot \hat n\) on this plane where \(\hat n\) is the unit normal to the plane?
  3. Verify the divergence theorem for this vector field where the volume involved is drawn below. (“Verify” means calculate both sides of the divergence theorem, separately, for this example and show that they are the same.)

group Small Group Activity

120 min.

Equipotential Surfaces

E&M Quadrupole Scalar Fields

Students are prompted to consider the scalar superposition of the electric potential due to multiple point charges. First a single point charge is discussed, then four positive charges, then an electric quadrupole. Students draw the equipotential curves in the plane of the charges, while also considering the 3D nature of equipotentials.

assignment Homework

Contours

Gradient Sequence

Static Fields 2022 (5 years)

Shown below is a contour plot of a scalar field, \(\mu(x,y)\). Assume that \(x\) and \(y\) are measured in meters and that \(\mu\) is measured in kilograms. Four points are indicated on the plot.

  1. Determine \(\frac{\partial\mu}{\partial x}\) and \(\frac{\partial\mu}{\partial y}\) at each of the four points.
  2. On a printout of the figure, draw a qualitatively accurate vector at each point corresponding to the gradient of \(\mu(x,y)\) using your answers to part a above. How did you choose a scale for your vectors? Describe how the direction of the gradient vector is related to the contours on the plot and what property of the contour map is related to the magnitude of the gradient vector.
  3. Evaluate the gradient of \(h(x,y)=(x+1)^2\left(\frac{x}{2}-\frac{y}{3}\right)^3\) at the point \((x,y)=(3,-2)\).

group Small Group Activity

30 min.

Total Charge
Static Fields 2022 (5 years)

charge charge density multiple integral scalar field coordinate systems differential elements curvilinear coordinates

Integration Sequence

In this small group activity, students integrate over non-uniform charge densities in cylindrical and spherical coordinates to calculate total charge.

group Small Group Activity

30 min.

DELETE Navigating a Hill
Static Fields 2022 (4 years) In this small group activity, students determine various aspects of local points on an elliptic hill which is a function of two variables. The gradient is emphasized as a local quantity which points in the direction of greatest change at a point in the scalar field.

assignment_ind Small White Board Question

10 min.

Dot Product Review
Static Fields 2022 (6 years)

dot product math

This small whiteboard question (SWBQ) serves as a quick review of the dot product. It is also an opportunity to help students see the advantages of knowing many different representations of and facts about a physical concept.

assignment Homework

Cone Surface
Static Fields 2022 (5 years)

  • Find \(dA\) on the surface of an (open) cone in both cylindrical and spherical coordinates. Hint: Be smart about how you coordinatize the cone.
  • Using integration, find the surface area of an (open) cone with height \(H\) and radius \(R\). Do this problem in both cylindrical and spherical coordinates.

assignment Homework

Differentials of One Variable
Static Fields 2022 (5 years) Find the total differential of the following functions:
  1. \(y=3x^2 + 4\cos 2x\)
  2. \(y=3x^2\cos kx\) (where \(k\) is a constant)
  3. \(y=\frac{\cos 7x}{x^2}\)
  4. \(y=\cos(3x^2-2)\)

group Small Group Activity

60 min.

Electrostatic Potential Due to a Pair of Charges (with Series)
Static Fields 2022 (5 years)

electrostatic potential multipole charge symmetry scalar field superposition coulomb's Law

Power Series Sequence (E&M)

Ring Cycle Sequence

Students work in small groups to use the superposition principle \[V(\vec{r}) = \frac{1}{4\pi\epsilon_0}\sum_i \frac{q_i}{\vert\vec{r}-\vec{r}_i\vert}\] to find the electrostatic potential \(V\) everywhere in space due to a pair of charges (either identical charges or a dipole). Different groups are assigned different arrangements of charges and different regions of space to consider: either on the axis of the charges or in the plane equidistant from the two charges, for either small or large values of the relevant geometric variable. Each group is asked to find a power series expansion for the electrostatic potential, valid in their group's assigned region of space. The whole class wrap-up discussion then compares and contrasts the results and discuss the symmetries of the two cases.

accessibility_new Kinesthetic

30 min.

The Distance Formula (Star Trek)
Static Fields 2022 (5 years)

distance formula coordinate systems dot product vector addition

Ring Cycle Sequence

A short improvisational role-playing skit based on the Star Trek series in which students explore the definition and notation for position vectors, the importance of choosing an origin, and the geometric nature of the distance formula. \[\vert\vec{r}-\vec{r}^\prime\vert=\sqrt{(x-x^\prime)^2+(y-y^\prime)^2-(z-z^\prime)^2}\]

computer Mathematica Activity

30 min.

Visualization of Quantum Probabilities for the Hydrogen Atom
Central Forces 2023 (3 years) Students use Mathematica to visualize the probability density distribution for the hydrogen atom orbitals with the option to vary the values of \(n\), \(\ell\), and \(m\).

group Small Group Activity

30 min.

Electrostatic Potential Due to a Ring of Charge
Static Fields 2022 (7 years)

electrostatic potential charge linear charge density taylor series power series scalar field superposition symmetry distance formula

Power Series Sequence (E&M)

Ring Cycle Sequence

Warm-Up

Students work in groups of three to use the superposition principle \[V(\vec{r}) =\frac{1}{4\pi\epsilon_0}\int\frac{\rho(\vec{r}^{\,\prime})}{\vert \vec{r}-\vec{r}^{\,\prime}\vert} \, d\tau^{\prime}\] to find an integral expression for the electrostatic potential, \(V(\vec{r})\), everywhere in space, due to a ring of charge.

In an optional extension, students find a series expansion for \(V(\vec{r})\) either on the axis or in the plane of the ring, for either small or large values of the relevant geometric variable. Add an extra half hour or more to the time estimate for the optional extension.

group Small Group Activity

60 min.

Visualizing Plane Waves

Each small group of 3-4 students is given a white board or piece of paper with a square grid of points on it.

Each group is given a different two-dimensional vector \(\vec{k}\) and is asked to calculate the value of \(\vec{k} \cdot \vec {r}\) for each point on the grid and to draw the set of points with constant value of \(\vec{k} \cdot \vec{r}\) using rainbow colors to indicate increasing value.

group Small Group Activity

30 min.

The Hill
Vector Calculus II 2022 (4 years)

Gradient

Gradient Sequence

In this small group activity, students determine various aspects of local points on an elliptic hill which is a function of two variables. The gradient is emphasized as a local quantity which points in the direction of greatest change at a point in the scalar field.