They have been widely used in primary and secondary education (e.g. Duit 1991; de Bóo and Asoko 2000; Asoko and Boo 2001). Analogies are particularly suitable for use in physics (Reiners and Glynn 1995; Kircher and Hauser 1995). They are ideal for teaching principles relating to electricity (Dupin and Johsua 1989, Cosgrove 1995). Students can use analogies to relate with something they are already familiar with and see the similarities between the two systems.
The standard return for electrical and electronic circuits is the earth ground. When an electrical or electronic device fails, it may open the return circuit to the earth ground.
We use them in conjunction with solar-powered model car kits which students have to build themselves. These receive energy through solar powered panels allowing us also to teach ideas about renewable energy as well as electricity. The solar panels also allow us to integrate problem solving into lessons, with students having to investigate when panels work best.
One way to make this topic more accessible is to use analogies (Lakoff and Johnson 2008). Analogies are examples which possess similar features, or work in a comparable manner, to the ideas that you wish to teach (Harrison and Coll 2007). They offer an excellent method of visualising difficult and unfamiliar concepts, or ideas that can not be directly seen.