1. Introduction to Electric Fields

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Learning Objectives

  • To be able to describe a scalar field and a vector field and give examples of each.
  • To be able to recognize the two fundamental kinds of vector fields: those with sources, those with circulations, and those with both sources and circulations.
  • To be able to recognize the three different ways we use to visualize vector fields: the vector field method, the field line method, and the “grass seeds” method.
  • To comprehend that gravitational fields and electrostatic electric fields have a number of properties in common.


Course Notes

Read through the course notes before watching the video.  The course note files may also contain links to associated animations or interactive simulations. 

Fields (PDF)

Lecture Video

Video Excerpts

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Download the complete lectures from this course:

» iTunes U
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Learning Activities

Guided Activities

Read through the class slides. They explain all of the concepts from the module.

Slides (PDF - 1.4MB)


Do the Concept Questions first to make sure you understand the main concepts from this module. Then, when you are ready, try the Challenge Problems.

Concept Questions

Concept Questions (PDF)

Solutions (PDF)

Challenge Problems

Challenge Problems (PDF)

Solutions (PDF)

Problem Solving Help

Watch the Problem Solving Help video for insights on how to approach and solve problems related to the concepts in this module.

Problem: The Electric Field Due to Two Point Charges

We have two point charges, one negatively charged and one positively charged, located at two different points in the xy plane. We find the electric field due to these two charges at the origin.

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Download this video:
» iTunes U (MP4 - 12MB)
» Internet Archive (MP4 - 12MB)


Related Visualizations

The visualizations linked below are related to the concepts covered in this module.


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