Teaching the general theory of relativity to high school or undergraduate students must be based on an approach that is conceptual rather than mathematical. In this paper we present such an approach that requires no more than elementary mathematics. The central idea of this introduction to general relativity is the use of so-called sector models. Sector models describe curved space the Regge calculus way by subdivision into blocks with euclidean geometry. This procedure is similar to the approximation of a curved surface by flat triangles. We outline a workshop for high school and undergraduate students that introduces the notion of curved space by means of sector models of black holes. We further describe the extension to sector models of curved spacetimes. The spacetime models are suitable for learners with a basic knowledge of special relativity.
Published in The European Journal of Physics, vol. 35 (2014), 055020.
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Sector models - A toolkit for teaching general relativity: I. Curved spaces and spacetimes (460 kB).
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