Potential Due to a Pair of Charges - Part 1

Keywords: Small Group Activity, Compare and Contrast, Coulomb's Law, Electrostatic Potential, Multipoles, Charge, Taylor and Power Series, Scalar Field, Superposition, Symmetry

Highlights of the activity

1. This small group activity is designed to help students learn how to calculate the electrostatic potential field due to a distribution of discrete charges.
2. Students calculate the electrostatic potential field generated by a two charges using superposition and the definition of $|\Vec r - \Vec r'|$.
3. The wrap-up discussion addresses how the superposition principle is used and what $|\Vec r - \Vec r'|$ means geometrically in a specific problem.

Reasons to spend class time on the activity

This activity is a quick check that students understand the role of $|\rr-\rr'|$ in the denominator of the expression for the potential due to a point charge. It is also a quick application of the superposition principle. This activity is part one of a longer activity, Electrostatic Potential Due to Two Point Charges, in which students do a series expansion of the expressions that they develop here.

Instructor's Guide

Authors: Corinne Manogue

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