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Tiffany Carter 1

Expert Study
Tiffany Elizabeth Carter
CI 4300-Dr. Ramirez
December 7, 2015

Artifact: Unit Exam


Topic/Title: Electricity and Energy Transformations
Medium: Microsoft Word Document
Technology Used: Microsoft Word, Science Lab Experiments,
and Internet Research

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A. Identification of Artifact
In General Science 3300, a methods course for pre-service science educators, we explore
the North Carolina Essential Standards in-depth. We learn how to apply our knowledge of
science concepts to students through an engaging, creative, relevant, integrative, challenging, and
exploratory experience of knowledge that prepares young adolescents for advanced science
courses in high school and beyond. The artifact presented is an exam from our Electricity: Bulbs
and Circuits unit. Through this exam, students were expected to display their knowledge of
electricity from its most basic form to its most advanced processes. This test required students to
write an essay, to draw circuits, explain the quantitative differences between circuits, explain the
structure and properties of good conductors of energy, measure resistance in wires, trace the
electric current in a circuit, and assemble a compete electrical circuit with the provided materials
from Dr. Jennifer Geib. Dr. Geib facilitated the circuit building section of the exam to evaluate
our technique and ability to produce light and sound with limited materials.
Overall, this unit was designed to prepare pre-service teachers to effectively convey their
knowledge of electricity to students. This unit also prepared students to address the energy topics
found in the North Carolina Essential Standards for seventh and eighth grade students. This test
was complex and multifaceted. The exam was challenging, and my original grade was a 38.5/49,
or 78.5%, which is a C+. Test corrections were only allowed on specific sections of the test.
After corrections, and a required advising session with Dr. Geib, I made an 85.6% for this unit
exam, which is a B. This artifact displays my content knowledge of electricity and the ways in
which it is used to supply energy in different forms for everyday life processes. I chose this
artifact because it displays the immense amount of growth that I underwent during this unit. I
struggled through the content, and it took me a while to understand the complex nature of energy

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transformations as they related to electricity. When I took this exam, I did not feel prepared, and
it shows in the grade that I received. After corrections, my grade did not increase greatly, but the
artifact itself shows how much I learned throughout the unit. It also displays how well my
misconceptions on the topic were corrected through an inquiry-based approach, which required
me to independently research and experiment with the different parts of a circuit to fully
understand the complexity of electricity. Of all the tests that we took that semester, this is the
lowest grade that I received, but the one that I am most proud of due to the immense amount of
time and effort that I put into this unit to fully understand the material. I approached this topic
with very little information, but I worked diligently to understand the concepts and walked away
from the unit with a proficient understanding of electricity.
B. Content Knowledge Analysis (Time of Artifact Completion)
I possessed very little content knowledge at the beginning of this unit about electricity. I
did not know how electricity was created, processed, and used at the beginning of this unit
beyond a very brief scientific history lesson on Benjamin Franklin that I received sometime in
high school. During the unit, Dr. Geib mentioned that electricity is rarely covered in schools due
to teachers not having a full understanding of electrical energy. I find this to be especially true,
because I was never provided with any specific knowledge about electricity. We spent a total of
three weeks just on electricity in GS 3300, but before we delved into this topic, we talked about
matter and the role that atomic particles play in the operation of all processes in the universe. We
explored how protons, neutrons, and electrons are found within the universe; this served as our
foundation and gateway into electrical processes. We also explored energy. I have studied energy
in several science classes in my educational career but, like most individuals that have not
researched electricity and taken the time to understand the inner working of the electrical

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process, I believed that energy was simply a source that could be supplied to objects and living
things allowing them to do work. I did not associate or realize the complexity of energy and how
it is involved in the fundamental processes that provide things such as light and sound.
The depth of my content knowledge of electricity and energy transformations
corresponds to Standards 2 of the NCDPI Middle Grade Standards for Science Teacher
Candidates.
Standard 2. Science teacher candidates understand and are able to use the unifying
concepts of science in their instruction. Understand the following unifying concepts of
science, and organize their instruction around them.
o
o
o
o
o

Systems, Order and Organization


Evidence, Models and Explanation
Constancy, Change, and Measurement
Evolution and Equilibrium
Form and Function

Standard 2 of NCDPI Middle Grade Standards for Science Teacher Candidates was addressed in
my artifact. This artifact specifically addressed the Evidence, Models, and Explanation, Form
and Function, and Constancy Change and Measurements portions of this standard. The bulb
section of the test specifically asked that students synthesize information and draw conclusions
based on their experience with bulbs and provide evidence to support their claims. We were
asked to describe how bulbs function with scientific vocabulary and explain the form and
function of batteries, bulbs, and circuits in everyday life. The first section of this test required me
to label circuits A-F as either functioning or non-functioning. If a circuit was not functioning, I
had to explain why it would not produce sound, light, or heat. On the exam, and in class, I used a
water tower analogy to explain the continuous changes in energy as electrons undergo different

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processes to create light. This section allowed me to display my content knowledge by requiring
me to select different bulb, wire, circuit, and battery configurations and defend my claims with
evidence as to why I believed the selected configuration would cause a bulb to light or not. I
needed to possess and understand the function of bulbs and be able to locate and measure their
frequencies with scientific amp meters in order to conclude whether a bulb could produce light.
The exam also required me to draw diagrams of complete bulb circuits that would be dimly lit
and fully lit. In this section alone, I needed to examine a model, determine the brightness of the
bulb with evidence from prior experiments, and measure the watts and electrical wavelengths
traveling through the bulb structure. On questions 7 and 8, I had to look at six different
configurations and trace the current from the negative electrode to the positive electrode in order
to identify which bulbs traveled in a complete series and which ones did not. Without the
knowledge of how all the parts of the configuration are unified to complete the circuit, I would
not have been able to answer these questions correctly. This standard is also met by the circuit
configuration portion of the exam. I had to use a wire, Christmas lights, a bulb, and a battery to
produce light. I was observed by Dr. Geib during this section, and she made me verbally defend
my bulb design before I could begin building. Being able to light the bulb was not the only
requirement, we also needed to prove that we could explain what was going on in the circuit,
measure the watts, and compare our model to traditional circuit wiring configurations. I found
this to be the most challenging part of the exam. It is easy to configure a circuit and produce light
once you have practiced this skill using a bulb and wire, but explaining the loop-like path of the
current through the circuit and tracing the energy transformations was not easy. I second guessed
myself and wondered whether Dr. Geib understood my rationale for the circuit design. There are
many scientific terms used in the electricity unit, so it was pertinent that I use the correct ones in

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order to receive credit for the rationale. This alone was unbelievably challenging, and I
performed rather poorly on this section initially.

C. Development of Content Knowledge since Artifacts Completion


Overall, after the completion of this unit, my content knowledge increased in many areas
but remained neutral in others. Having to access the information to teach students allowed me to
grow in my understanding: writing my recap paper also allowed me to develop a stronger
understanding. During the unit analysis, my idea of energy changed, and I realized that what I
previously called energy wasnt at all correct. My uniformed view of energy was greatly
changed after the introduction of advance vocabulary terms that explained the electrical process.
Throughout the exam, I was required to explain electrical configurations and identify the
different types of energy that were being processed and transmitted, but my level of
understanding of circuits, bulbs, and batteries did not greatly increase until after I received my
grade and I met with Dr. Geib to discuss my results. The process of redoing certain sections of
the test proved to be very beneficial, and it allowed me to tie up the few loose ends that I still had
concerning the content we were exploring. On pages 1-3 of the exam, I was asked to identify
complete circuits and explain the quantitative differences between circuits with series and
parallel configurations. I lost several points on these pages due to not having a full
understanding of the circuit connections. When I explained the process of energy flowing, I
mistakenly referred to the flow of electrons through a space to produce something, such as sound
and light. I did not come to this conclusion until I took home circuit building supplies and spent
the afternoon testing different configurations. With this unit, I needed independent practice in
order to understand the concepts. I had to spend extra time outside of class building and

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examining the wires and bulbs in order to understand what was going on. So, now that the unit is
over and I no longer need to examine circuits on a daily basis in order to recreate the examples
we did in class, my knowledge has not increased: it has remained fairly neutral.
The process of energy transformation is known as energy conversion, which is something
that you cannot see with the naked eye. In order to understand this specific part of the unit, I had
to do close readings and annotate the texts that Dr. Geib provided. I then applied my findings to
everyday situations. For example, when we flip on a light switch there is energy that has been
transformed to specifically function as a light source. Light, in general, employs several different
types of energy transformation. The bulbs that are used, and the switches that accompany them
determine: the flow of energy, how much light and sound can be produced, and when they
should stop and start. Electricity employs several types of energy, and it utilizes thermal,
mechanical, and light energy in the creation of light. It took intense close readings for me to
draw these conclusions.
My level of understanding increased exponentially when I began writing my recap paper
for the unit. I focused on the areas that I did not feel comfortable with, and I completed research
and hands-on practice in order to write my paper. I began the paper by explaining the connection
between energy and electricity. Writing about the process allowed me to identify the portions of
the unit that I did not understand and made clear what I needed to focus on going forward.
Electricity is a type of kinetic energy due to the flow of electrons through a specific looplike path that allows for the creation of energy. In our batteries unit, we discussed how they take
chemical energy and convert it to electrical energy. Page 5 of the exam required me to explain in
a short essay how a battery operates and what materials are necessary to use the energy that
batteries provide. I did well on this section, and I was able to explain how batteries take specific

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molecules that hold the atoms together in order to access and use energy. The energy stored in
these molecules is called chemical potential energy. Chemical potential energy can be absorbed
or released during a chemical reaction to allow for the production of a new product, such as light.
Since the completion of the unit, my knowledge of the different types of energies created during
specific processes has slightly diminished. I have not used this content knowledge in over six
months, and I am not as strong in this specific area. If I had to use the knowledge more often, it
would be more familiar and ingrained in my mind.
When I took this exam, I was still under the assumption that you can catch and store
electricity, and you can store electrical energy in chemicals inside a battery as well as in the
filaments that are found in bulbs. In my exploration of batteries on page 5, my misconceptions
of the main parts of a battery were uncovered. During corrections, I researched the positive and
negative electrode, and electrolytes, which are two keys parts in the understanding of batteries. I
discussed how the negative and positive electrodes function in two very different but distinct
roles. The negative electrode allows current to be generated from products such as Zinc, while
the positive electrode requires chemicals such as carbon to produce current. The electrodes
basically facilitate the creation of current throughout the battery but require different substances
to produce the energy. The electrolyte acts as an insulator that separates the positive and negative
electrodes.
Batteries have two terminals, and the energy passes from the negative to positive terminal
in a loop-like path to provide energy to the sources that require it. On page 3, I had to explain the
different types of a battery circuit, label the different types of circuits, explain how some could
transmit energy and why others were unable to transmit energy. I explained how batteries that
are small can often produce the same amount of voltage but may not possess an appropriate

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amount of potential energy to produce something. When I was questioned during the circuit
assembly on whether or not a battery could be recharged, I assumed that the answer was yes, but,
surprisingly, I was wrong. Batteries are not rechargeable, and they do not contain a certain
amount of charge that decides the longevity of the battery. I found this particularly interesting
because I assumed that batteries possess a specific amount of energy and once the energy was
gone it would die. Batteries die eventually, but it has nothing to do with charges running out. At
my internship last semester at Johnson County Middle, my knowledge of battery operation
greatly increased. We began the batteries unit at JCMS right after we wrapped up our unit with
Dr. Geib. Having to teach the knowledge and explain concepts in simpler forms allowed me to
form a deeper understanding of battery operation.
D. Plan for Deepening Content Knowledge
I think it would be especially useful to take the time to visit an electrical engineer. My
hope would be to gain a deeper understanding of the electrical content and receive strategies that
will me help me teach the information and allow students to easily understand and comprehend
the information. This way, I can ensure that all of my instruction is factual and appropriate for
the age level of my students. Asking someone that is qualified to give instruction on these topics
would help me feel comfortable teaching this particular section of content knowledge to students.
I would go into the meeting with a set of questions and specific outcomes that I would want to
walk away with after our session. I also think that reading more scientific texts will allow me to
fully understand electricity. Doing extensive research on the creation and development of the
topic will undoubtedly yield more information than necessary but aid me in my search for a
complete understanding of the topic.

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Another strategy that I could use, would be to purchase electrical circuit building
materials and try to wire something myself. In class, Dr. Geib mentioned that her understanding
of circuits increased when she tried to do her own electrical wiring at home. She took on small
projects at first, like installing a light switch, and gradually progressed to wiring items such as
chandeliers and installing commercial lights for a classroom ecological lamp. This electrical unit
requires hands-on practice to make the content knowledge connections. If I cannot find an
electrical engineer to speak with, I could always find a licensed electrician. The electrician works
with lighting every day and would be an invaluable resource during the unit. I would ask this
person to be my classroom partner during the unit and ask them to help me design the unit
assessments and arrange for them to come in and speak. I especially like this unit because it will
expose students that are not necessarily college-bound to a profession that is sustainable and
accessible to anyone willing to put in the effort to learn. This unit also invites community
members into the school to join me in the education process.
During my five-week internship at West Wilkes Middle, in Wilkesboro, North Carolina,
my supervising teacher did not intend on being a middle grades science teacher. Therefore, she
knew very little content knowledge when she accepted the position. So, she started to create unit
folders over time with helpful resources, worksheets, games, articles and links that she could use
in order to further her own content knowledge. This also provided differentiated instruction for
students that required extra resources and assistance as well as for students that finish their
assigned work early and needed something to do. I will incorporate this into my classroom as a
way to further my content knowledge, for several reasons. I will utilize this strategy because it
requires me to review sources before adding them to my on-line folders. As I am reading and
weeding out good sources from not so good sources, I will learn new things and refresh my

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content knowledge before I begin to teach the information. These folders will be added to my
classroom Google Drive, and can be accessed by parents, other staff members, and my students.
The sites will also be diverse in the complexity of delivered content. For example, when I taught
electricity to a class of low achieving eighth grade students I used websites like Brain Pop and
Bill Nye to convey knowledge to them. Whereas as West Wilkes, we watched videos from NC
State and Chapel Hill. My classroom website will be updated every semester and I will add new
resources that suit the level of my students ability.
Lastly, I will attend teacher workshops offered in my district or county relating to content
area knowledge that I need help understanding. While interning at West Wilkes, all of the
science teachers were required to attend a science workshop at the local community college to
explore sound. In this workshop they learned practical skills and tips that they could use to assist
students at all ability levels. In this training that I viewed the following day on-line, teachers
were fully prepared in a matter of four hours to teach a whole unit on sound. Different teachers
shared their techniques and activities that they found particularly successful, and all of the
teachers were able to bounce ideas off of each other. This was also a great time for teachers in
different grade levels to understand what their students should know when they enter their
classrooms, and it also helped teachers understand how in-depth they should teach students
specific content area knowledge to adequately prepare them for the next grade. As a general rule,
attending any professional development session will be a priority for me. In order to further my
knowledge of content, the inner workings of the education system, and the North Carolina
curriculum.

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E. Reflect on your depth of knowledge in this area of study.


Considering that I came into this unit with practically no knowledge of batteries, circuits
and bulbs, my knowledge has increased immensely. At the beginning of the unit, I was unable to
take a wire, battery, and bulb to produce light but I can now. I can also use the appropriate
scientific terminology and explain in detail how the energy is being funneled through systems to
produce light. I can also provide age appropriate instruction for middle grades students delving
into this topic. I did not learn the electrical energy information quickly, nor did I understand the
information fully when I took the unit exam. I felt unprepared for the exam and I went in
knowing that I would not be as successful.
To fully understand the energy concepts of this unit, I had to put my pride aside and ask
for extra assistance. I met with Dr. Geib before and after class to discuss things that I did not
understand. I took the initiative to gather materials and practice on my own. At this point I am
still not an expert on this subject, but I understand enough to convey the concepts to my students.
I can use the correct terminology and also give detailed instructions. After teaching the unit, I
know what works well and what does not work as well. I can perform science demos and also
craft 5E lesson plans that will engage students and excite them about learning. Lastly, Ive
picked up several practical skills. I can now wire objects, create different types of circuits, and
measure watts using an amp meter.
Blooms Taxonomy, a tool used to measure and promote advanced critical thinking
classifies levels of understanding using the following five categories: creating, evaluating,
analyzing, understanding, and remembering. Throughout the unit I progressed through all of
these levels. I have come to this conclusion due to the project requiring me to analyze material,
evaluate different interconnected topics, process my independent practice findings, learn

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different procedures that allowed me to create light and sound, and understand complex
principles that you cannot see, but rather have to learn and apply the knowledge. This unit did
not allow me to just remember facts and regurgitate information. I had to practice and learn.
Remembering Stage: For the exam I had to remember the fundamental laws that allow energy
to be transferred and conserved to produce electricity. During this stage, I was able to define,
identify, and list different parts of the electrical process. It did not require much thought, but at
this point, I was unable to connect the regurgitated information from class in order to explain to
someone else or teach the concepts.
Understanding Stage: To truly understand the content knowledge, I had to not only listen and
participate in class, but do close readings and independent practice to reinforce the ideas and
concepts taught in class. During the stage, I began to process information and comprehend the
topics discussed. I could take the in class activities and independently practice, and link them
together. I started to draw connections and state information in my own words.
Applying Stage: This artifact is the first time that I began to apply the information and begin
separating out the different parts of the electrical process. I could distinguish between the
different modes of energy transformation and give a brief explanation on how a battery, bulb,
and circuit all are similar, but differ greatly. On this exam I illustrated, labeled, defined concepts,
and compared and contrasted the differences between parallel and series circuits.
Evaluating Stage: During the written portion of the exam I critiqued my circuit building skills,
composed a reflection of my total knowledge, and during the corrections section of the exam, I
had to evaluate my only knowledge and state my final level of understanding. During this stage I
reorganized the knowledge that I possessed in order to clearly distinguish between the things that

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I knew well and the things that I did not know well. At the completion of the unit I had to
modify, revise, and process the final content knowledge to tie up loose ends that I still needed to
learn.
Creating Stage: For my final demonstration of knowledge I had to create light with limited
materials, with the supervision of my professor, Dr. Geib. The rules remained the same, but this
time the overarching objective was to create several different configurations that could produce
light and defend them with scientific terminology. I completed the task in mere seconds and
could rearrange the configuration in multiple ways to produce light. My explanations to Dr. Geib
were clear and concise, and I was confident in my responses. Overall, my knowledge of
electricity has greatly increased.
F. Debrief your growth as a middle grades teacher through completion of this expert study.
Completing this expert study allowed me to evaluate myself and gain a greater
appreciation for self-reflection. This expert study required me to be honest and critical. I do not
like to highlight where I fall short and this project required me to do so all throughout this
assignment. As a teacher, I am supposed to possess an extensive wealth of knowledge in order to
properly instruct students, but that knowledge has to be learned and developed over time. This
project helped me realize how much I learned in a small period of time. It also showed me that I
am capable of obtaining and accessing information in order to teach students. It also reinforced
my passion for teaching and learning, and helped me realize how I learn best. When I
approached this unit initially I was embarrassed to admit that I did not know the content. After
completing this expert study, I see why this assignment was so vital. More than anything, it made
me realize that I am still developing as a teacher and that I do not need to know everything right

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now. From this expert study, I have realized that with experience and practice I will obtain all of
the necessary skills, content knowledge, and technique needed for me to be a successful teacher.

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