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Equipotential Surfaces

Keywords: E&M, Upper-Division, Electric Potential, Surfaces, Contour Plot, Visualization

Highlights of the activity

  1. Students work in small groups to draw a contour map of electric potential for several distributions of discrete charges
  2. Students use a Mathematica notebook and plastic graph model (surface) to visualize the electric potential in different ways

Reasons to spend class time on the activity

  1. Visualizing a 3D potential field is difficult there are many ways to do so.
  2. Students tend to default to thinking about electric field rather than electric potential.
  3. Students use multiple representations to engage in an inquiry process.


Instructor's Guide


Student Handouts



Mathematica Notebook


Authors: Liz Gire, Aaron Wangberg, Robyn Wangberg, Paul Emigh, Jonathan Alfson, Corinne Manogue
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