Building Series & Parallel Circuits: Physics Lab

Building Series & Parallel Circuits: Physics Lab
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  • 0:00 Series and Parallel Circuits
  • 0:32 Physics Lab Steps
  • 2:04 Data Analysis
  • 3:19 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: David Wood

David has taught Honors Physics, AP Physics, IB Physics and general science courses. He has a Masters in Education, and a Bachelors in Physics.

After completing this lab, you will be able to explain the difference between series and parallel circuits, and describe how the voltage and current vary across them. A short quiz will follow.

What are Series and Parallel Circuits?

An electric circuit is a complete loop in which electrons from a voltage or current source flow. There are two types of electric circuits: series circuits and parallel circuits.

A series circuit is one where all the components (including the battery) are connected in a single, continuous loop. A parallel circuit is where some or all of the components are connected on separate branches.

Today, we're going to investigate the two types of circuits and see how the voltage and current varies across each of them.

Physics Lab Steps

For this physics lab, you will need:

  • A battery
  • Three small bulbs
  • Ten wires
  • An ammeter (device that measures current flowing through it)
  • A voltmeter (device that measures the voltage across different components)

Step 1: Use the wires to connect the battery, the ammeter and three bulbs in series (one complete loop). Connect the voltmeter in parallel around one of the bulbs.

Step 2: Note down the readings on the ammeter and voltmeter.

Step 3: Connect the voltmeter in parallel around each of the other two bulbs, and note down the reading on the voltmeter.

Step 4: Connect the ammeter in series within different parts of the circuit, and note down the reading on the ammeter.

Step 5: Use the wires to connect the battery and three bulbs in parallel, with one bulb on each branch. Connect the ammeter alongside the battery, and connect the voltmeter in parallel around one of the bulbs.

Step 6: Note down the readings on the ammeter and voltmeter.

Step 7: Connect the voltmeter in parallel around each of the other two bulbs, and note down the reading on the voltmeter.

Step 8: Connect the ammeter in series within different parts of the circuit, and note down the reading on the ammeter.

You can collect your data in a table like this one. If you haven't already, now is the time to pause the video and complete the lab. Good luck!

Data Analysis

Okay, so now that you have your data, it's time to analyze it. What patterns did you notice in your voltage and current readings?

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