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Potential Due to a Pair of Charges - Part 2

Keywords: Small Group Activity, Compare and Contrast, Electrostatic Potential and Potential Energy, Multipoles, Charge, Symmetry, Scalar Field, Superposition


Highlights of the activity

  1. This small group activity is designed to help students to use series approximations.
  2. Students are asked to find the electrostatic potential on the axis and in the plane of two point charges.
  3. The compare and contrast wrap-up discussion focuses on the symmetry conditions appropriate to different regions.

Reasons to spend class time on the activity

Students need to learn to understand the physical and geometric meaning of ${1}\over {|\Vec r - \Vec r'|}$.

This activity can be thought of as a warm-up for a series of activities that focus on unpacking successively more complicated superposition integrals.

Although students typically have some experience with power series from math courses, this activity allows them to employ the common physics strategy of substituting into known series by rewriting an expression in terms of dimensionless parameters. (same link as “expand this potential”)


Instructor's Guide



Student Handouts






Authors: Corinne Manogue & Kerry Browne
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