A simple illustration of the Lorentz Force on a current carrying wire. Users can turn the current on and off, reverse its direction, and reverse the direction of the magnetic field. Directions of the various vectors are shown.
Illustration of directions for the magnetic force (cross products).
Target Student Population:
Lower level undergrad, and advanced high school
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
Introduction to magentic fields and forces.
Type of Material:
Java applet, Illustration
Evaluation and Observation
A simple, qualitative illustration of the directions involved in finding the force on a current carrying wire in a magnetic field. The ability to turn off the display of a any of the three vectors, force, current direction, or field, enhances its usefulness as an in-class demo.
This applet is purely qualitative, with no calculations of the magnitude of the force.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
This is an online example of a classic lecture/demo, determining the direction of the force on or current through a current-carrying wire in a magnetic field. This applet could be made available to students to let them revisit the demonstration done in class. Students can be challenged to solve for the direction of one vector given the other two. This could be used to stimulate student-guided exploration or peer instruction.
The applet is too limited to be used for more than a single purpose. The quantitative aspects of the Lorentz force are not addressed, making it unsuitable for homework or a tutorial.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
The applet is very simple and straight forward. The use of the buttons is intuitive. The graphics are excellent.