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Physics HS/Science Unit: 09 Lesson: 01

Series and Parallel Circuits Lab


Introduction: In the first part of this lab, use simple circuit boards to examine some of the properties of resistors (light bulbs), in series and in parallel with each other. In these circuits, you are to consider the bulbs as identical. In reality, quality control of simple flashlight bulbs is lacking, and if the properties are close, you should consider them as the same. You will be asked to measure the voltage across bulbs and use the brightness of the bulbs to indicate the relative current flow through the bulbs. In the second part of the lab, build virtual circuits similar to the parallel and series circuit boards. In these virtual labs, the circuit elements are perfect, and your decisions will be automatic. Materials: series and parallel circuit boards single bulb with alligator clip leads conductivity tester board multimeter computer with Internet connection printer Part I: Series and Parallel Circuit Boards The two circuit boards pictured each have two bulbs, a battery pack, and a switch. Your circuits should be similar. Examine these circuits visually and with the voltmeter to answer questions on the lab report. Compare and contrast the behavior of the two circuits, specifically: Judge the relative brightness of the bulbs on the two circuits and a single bulb in the conductivity tester with a wire across the gap. Measure the voltage across the bulbs in each circuit. By screwing and unscrewing bulbs, determine the interaction between the bulbs and ramifications for practical circuits. Part II: Virtual Circuit Builder Construct the circuits shown, and characterize the properties of these circuits. The open circles are bulbs. Visit the URL below, construct the circuits, and fill in the corresponding tables. http://canu.ucalgary.ca/map/content/circuitbuilder/basic/simulate/practice/ Answer the questions on the Lab Report sheet related to these circuits. Print a copy, or show your instructor each circuit with the meter values displayed.

2012, TESCCC

10/30/12

page 1 of 3

Physics HS/Science Unit: 09 Lesson: 01

Series and Parallel Circuits Lab Report


Part I: Series and Parallel Circuit Boards Remember quality control for the bulbs is lacking, and close should be considered the same. 1. Compare the brightness of the bulbs in the conductivity tester (single bulb), two parallel bulbs, and two series bulbs; list them from bright to dim.

2. Assuming the brightness is correlated with the current through the bulbs, summarize your observation about the current through the bulbs.

3. What are the measured voltage values across the bulbs in each case? What do you conclude?

4. As bulbs burn out or are unscrewed, how do the parallel bulbs react compared to the bulbs in series with each other?

2012, TESCCC

10/30/12

page 2 of 3

Physics HS/Science Unit: 09 Lesson: 01

Part II: Virtual Circuit Builder It is customary to designate circuit components with a symbol and subscript to identify one resistor from another. In the series circuit, one could designate the bulb on the left as R1, in order to designate it as one resistor, and the other bulb as R2. The total resistance, as seen by the battery, is normally referred to as the total resistance of the circuit, or RT. Use the circuit values to fill in the voltage and current values in the charts below. Calculate the resistance values. Bulbs in Series Circuit: Circuit Voltage Current Element (volts) (amps) Bulb 1 V1 = I1 = Bulb 2 V2 = I2 = Battery VT = 10 IT = Bulbs in Parallel Circuit: Circuit Voltage Current Element (volts) (amps) Bulb 1 V1 = I1 = Bulb 2 V2 = I2 = Battery VT = 10 IT =

Resistance (ohms) R1 = R2 = RT =

Resistance (ohms) R1 = R2 = RT =

Resistance is defined as R = V/I. Instead of measuring the resistance, it is computed from the voltage and current values. Show one example of this calculation in the box. 1. Compare the total current from the battery for the series circuit to the total for the parallel circuit. What pattern do you see in resistances and current?

2. Summarize any relationships, including equations, you see for the currents and resistances for resistors, in series and in parallel, with each other. Note: Do not be afraid of getting the wrong answer. Your focus should be on what is discovered. Your teacher will give you more answers later.

2012, TESCCC

10/30/12

page 3 of 3