An Introduction to Electricity and Magnetism

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Course DatesMeeting TimesStatusInstructor(s)CRNRegistration
July 08, 2019 - July 19, 20197/08 - 7/19M-F 12:15P-3:05POpenTheodora Kunicki

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Course Description

The theories of electricity and magnetism are fundamental to our understanding of the world around us and have had incredible applications. One of the most spectacular of these applications is the world renowned Tesla coil, a high voltage circuit capable of producing mini "lightning bolts," invented by the enigmatic Nikola Tesla, Master of Lightning, in 1891. After gaining a firm foundation in electricity and magnetism, the course will focus on understanding the Tesla coil and similar technologies, including the wireless transmission of signals and the idea of harvesting energy from natural sources. Many in class demonstrations including that of a large Tesla coil will help demonstrate the physics at work.

Students will be introduced to the theory of electricity and magnetism and its applications, circuit theory, the phenomenon of lightning, and the principles of wireless transmission of signals and power. Students will engage with in-class-demos and projects, gaining hands-on experience and the physical intuition arising from it. This course is intended to provide a solid introductory foundation while elaborate on both the scientific and historic significance of Tesla’s inventions and inspirations. The course capstone project will be for each student to successfully build a mini Tesla resonator capable of wirelessly transmitting power.

The are three main learning objectives for the course. First, students will develop scientific reasoning and learn how to see the world through a physicists eyes, understanding how to draw profound conclusions from basic principles and equations. Second, students will gain familiarity with the equations of electricity and magnetism and learn how to apply them in a variety of contexts, starting from basic and advancing to more challenging situations. And finally, students will develop circuit intuition to understand the Tesla coil, first in theory, then by working with its components (i.e. capacitors, resistors, inductors, batteries).

Prerequisites: This course will build basic concepts from scratch, although exposure to basic physics is recommended.


Course Information

  • Course Code: CEPI0908
  • Length: 2 weeks

Program Information


Brown’s Pre-College Program in the liberal arts and sciences, offering over 200 non-credit courses, one- to four-weeks long, taught on Brown’s campus. For students completing grades 9-12 by June 2019.

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