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Physics 200
Physics for Scientists and Engineers
PHET LAB #1 – Parallel and Series Circuits (DC)
_______________________________________________________________________________
Getting to know the Simulation
1

Adapted from PHET, Physics 131, Scott Stambach, Cuyamaca College
Building Series and Parallel Circuits
Adapted from PHET, Physics 131, Scott Stambach, Cuyamaca College
Adapted from PHET, Physics 131, Scott Stambach, Cuyamaca College
III. Combo Circuits
Adapted from PHET, Physics 131, Scott Stambach, Cuyamaca College
Google doc version :
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Fb5zvpTlC6ZqPy6HD902sDFeVabv3k16zaYCZfrwn4k/edit?usp=sharing
Ohm’s Law Remote Lab
(This lesson is designed for a student working remotely.)
This lab uses the Ohm’s Law and Circuit Construction Kit DC simulation from PhET
Interactive Simulations at University of Colorado Boulder, under the CC-BY 4.0 license.
https://phet.colorado.edu/sims/html/ohms-law/latest/ohms-law_en.html
https://phet.colorado.edu/sims/html/circuit-construction-kit-dc/latest/circuit-construction-kit-dc_en.html
Learning Goals
1. As you change the value of the battery voltage, how does this change the current through the
circuit and the resistance of the resistor? If the current or resistance remains constant, why do you
think?
2. As you change the value of the resistance of the resistor, how does this change the current
through the circuit and the battery voltage? If the current or voltage remains constant, why do you
think?
3. Use understanding to make predictions about a circuit with lights and batteries.
Develop your understanding:
1. Open Ohm’s Law, then explore to develop your own ideas about how resistance, current, and
battery voltage are related..
Describe several of your experiments and your observation with captured images from the simulation.
a. .
b. etc
4/1/20 Loeblein https://phet.colorado.edu/en/contributions/view/5433
page 1
Google doc version :
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Fb5zvpTlC6ZqPy6HD902sDFeVabv3k16zaYCZfrwn4k/edit?usp=sharing
Demonstrate your understanding:
Directions: As you answer the questions, explain in your own words why your answer makes
sense and provide evidence from your #1 experiments. Add more experiments to #1 if you need
to get better evidence.
2. If you change the value of the battery voltage:
a. How does the current through the circuit change? (answer, explain, evidence)
b. How does the resistance of the resistor change? (answer, explain, evidence)
3. If you change the resistance of the resistor:
a. How does the current through the circuit change? (answer, explain, evidence)
b. How does the voltage of the battery change? (answer, explain, evidence)
4. Consider the two circuits below.
Use your understanding of voltage, resistance, and current to answer these questions:
a. What do you think will happen when the switches are turned closed?
(answer, explain, evidence)
b. How do you think the lights’ brightness will compare?
c. Open the Intro screen of Circuit Construction Kit DC. Build the 2 circuits and check your
answers. Insert a capture of the circuits with the switch closed for supporting evidence.
4/1/20 Loeblein https://phet.colorado.edu/en/contributions/view/5433
page 2
Google doc version :
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Fb5zvpTlC6ZqPy6HD902sDFeVabv3k16zaYCZfrwn4k/edit?usp=sharing
5. Consider the two circuits below.
Use your understanding of voltage, resistance, and current to answer these questions:
a. What do you think will happen when the switches are turned closed?
(answer, explain, evidence)
b. How do you think the lights’ brightness will compare?
c. Open the Intro screen of Circuit Construction Kit DC. Build the 2 circuits and check your
answers. Insert a capture of the circuits with the switch closed for supporting evidence.
4/1/20 Loeblein https://phet.colorado.edu/en/contributions/view/5433
page 3
Names
Group
Date
Lab 8: Kirchhoff’s Laws
Contents:
I.
Introduction ………….…………………………………………………………
II.
Series………….………………………………………………………………..
III.
Parallel………….………………………………………………………………
IV.
Complex………….…………………………………………………………….
1
4
6
8
I. Introduction
Purpose
In this lab you will investigate the behavior of current and voltage in more complicated
circuits, and find out the rules governing them (called Kirchhoff’s Laws). You will then
apply those rules to predict the voltage and current in a circuit, and measure the actual
values to see if your prediction is correct.
Kirchoff’s Junction Law:
Kirchoff’s Loop Law:
∑ !” = ∑ #$%
∑ = 0
Equipment
Breadboard
Jumper wires (about 10-15)
DC Voltage source with cables
9 V battery
Digital multimeter with probe cables
Resistors
Warning
When the multimeter is connected using the “A” or “mA” connection, it is easy to blow a
fuse or even damage the multimeter. Never connect the multimeter across the power
supply when in this mode!!!
Anatomy of a Breadboard (from sparkfun.com)
The best way to explain how a breadboard works is to take it apart and see what’s
inside. Using a smaller breadboard it’s easier to see just how they function.
Terminal Strips
Here we have a breadboard where the adhesive backing has been removed. You can
see lots of horizontal rows of metal strips on the bottom of the breadboard.
The tops of the metal rows have little clips that hide under the plastic holes. These clips
allow you to stick a wire or the leg of a component into the exposed holes on a
breadboard, which then hold it in place.
Physics 200 Spring 2015
©Miriam Simpson, Cuyamaca College
2
Once inserted that component will be electrically connected to anything else placed in
that row. This is because the metal rows are conductive and allow current to flow from
any point in that strip.
Notice that there are only five clips on this strip. This is typical on almost all
breadboards. Thus, you can only have up to five components connected in one
particular section of the breadboard. The row has ten holes, so why can you only
connect five components? You’ll also notice that each horizontal row is separated by a
ravine, or crevasse, in the middle of the breadboard. This ravine isolates both sides of a
given row from one another, and they are not electrically connected (this is so you can
connect chips which we don’t use in this class).
Power Rails
Now that we’ve seen how the connections in a breadboard are made, let’s look at a
larger, more typical breadboard. Aside from horizontal rows, breadboards usually have
what are called power rails that run vertically along the sides.
These power rails are metal strips that are identical to the ones that run horizontally,
except they are, typically*, all connected. When building a circuit, you tend to need
power in lots of different places. The power rails give you lots of easy access to power
wherever you need it in your circuit. Usually they will be labeled with a ‘+’ and a ‘-’ and
have a red and blue or black stripe, to indicate the positive and negative side.
It is important to be aware that the power rails on either side are not connected, so if you
want the same power source on both sides, you will need to connect the two sides with
some jumper wires. Keep in mind that the markings are there just as a reference. There
is no rule that says you have to plug power into the ‘+’ rail and ground into the ‘-‘rail,
though it’s good practice to keep everything in order.
Binding Posts
Some breadboards come on a platform that has binding posts attached to it. These
posts allow you to connect all kinds of different power sources to your
breadboard. These are not always connected to the breadboard and you will need to use
jumper wires to attach them to the power rails.
Physics 200 Spring 2015
©Miriam Simpson, Cuyamaca College
3
II. Series Circuit
A. Choose two resistors between 1000 Ω and 10,000 Ω (the larger resistance should
be 2-3 times larger than the smaller one), and find their values using both color
codes and the ohmmeter. To set up the digital multimeter as an ohmmeter, place the
red probe in the V/Ω connector, black probe in the GND or COM connector, and set
the scale to the Ω range. Record the values in the chart.
Resistor
Colors
Color Code Value
Ohmmeter Value
R1
R2
Color
1st band 2nd band 3rd band
Black
0
0
x 100
Brown
1
1
x 101
Red
2
2
x 102
Orange
3
3
x 103
Yellow
4
4
x 104
Green
5
5
x 105
Blue
6
6
x 106
Violet
7
7
x 107
Gray
8
8
x 108
White
9
9
x 109
Physics 200 Spring 2015
©Miriam Simpson, Cuyamaca College
4
B. Set up a simple series circuit and measure voltage differences.
Procedure: Set a circuit like the one shown below and set the voltage to about 4 V.
C. Set up the multimeter as a voltmeter (red probe in the V/Ω connector, black probe in
the GND or COM connector, scale set to the DCV range). Measure the voltage
across each element in the circuit. For each circuit element (battery or resistor), be
sure to connect the meter so that the black probe is connected to the side where the
current goes into the element, and the red probe is connected to the side where it
comes out. Record your results in the table.
D. Next, you’ll measure the currents in the circuit. Set up the digital multimeter as an
ammeter (red probe in the mA connector, black probe in the GND or COM
connector, scale set to the DCA range). Insert the ammeter in the appropriate
places to measure the currents flowing through the battery and through each
resistor. If you are doing this part correctly you will have to actually disconnect
circuit elements. Note that the ammeter will read positive if the current goes in
through the red probe and out through the black (ground) probe. It will read negative
if the current goes in through the black (ground) probe and out through the red
probe. Use the sign of the meter reading to determine which way current is flowing.
Element
ΔV
I
ε (battery)
R1
R2
Physics 200 Spring 2015
©Miriam Simpson, Cuyamaca College
5
Questions:
1. Suppose you start at a point just below the negative (GND) terminal of the voltage
source, and make a complete loop around the circuit. What is the sum of all the
voltage changes you encounter? (Show your work.)
2. According to Kirchhoff’s loop rule, the sum of the voltage changes for any
complete loop in a circuit should be zero. Are your results consistent with Kirchhoff’s
loop rule? If not, explain any differences.
Physics 200 Spring 2015
©Miriam Simpson, Cuyamaca College
6
III. Parallel Circuit
A. Set up a simple parallel circuit and measure voltage differences.
Procedure: set up the circuit shown below and measure current and voltage though
all circuit elements using the multimeter and record the values in the chart below.
B. Measure the voltages across each element and record them in the chart. BE VERY
CAREFUL ABOUT SIGNS! Be sure to connect the meter so that the black probe is
connected to the side where the current goes into the element, and the red probe is
connected to the side where it comes out.
C. Next, you’ll measure the currents in the circuit. Set up the digital multimeter as an
ammeter (red probe in the mA connector, black probe in the GND or COM
connector, scale set to the DCA range). Insert the ammeter in the appropriate
places to measure the currents flowing through the battery and through each
resistor. If you are doing this part correctly you will have to actually disconnect
circuit elements. Note that the ammeter will read positive if the current goes in
through the red probe and out through the black (ground) probe. It will read negative
if the current goes in through the black (ground) probe and out through the red
probe. Use the sign of the meter reading to determine which way current is flowing.
Element
ΔV
I
ε (battery)
R1
R2
Physics 200 Spring 2015
©Miriam Simpson, Cuyamaca College
7
Questions:
1. In this case, there is more than one possible complete loop. Using the
measurements above, calculate the total voltage change for the following loops, if
you go around the loop clockwise:
a. through the voltage source and R1 _____________________ V
b. through the voltage source and R2 _____________________ V
c. through R1 and R2 _____________________ V
d. Are your results consistent with Kirchhoff’s loop rule? If not, explain any
differences.
2. Notice the point on the diagram labeled “junction.” Based on your measurements
above, calculate the following quantities:
a. total I flowing into junction __________________ mA
b. total I flowing out of junction __________________ mA
c. According to Kirchhoff’s junction rule, the total current flowing into any
junction should be equal to the total current flowing out of the junction. Are
your results consistent with Kirchhoff’s junction rule? If not, explain any
differences.
Physics 200 Spring 2015
©Miriam Simpson, Cuyamaca College
8
IV. Complex Circuit
A. Pick a third resistor whose value is less than R2. Measure its resistance using the
multimeter and record it below:
Resistor
Color Code Value
Ohmmeter Value
R3
B. Set up a circuit with two voltage sources.
Procedure: set up the circuit shown below using a value between 5 and 12V for VA
and the 9V battery for VB. MAKE SURE THAT THE GROUND OF YOUR POWER
SUPPLY IS CONNECTED TO THE GROUND OF YOUR BATTERY! Measure
current and voltage though all circuit elements using the multimeter (same procedure
as the previous section) and record the values in the chart below.
a. Measure the voltages across each element and record them in the chart. BE
VERY CAREFUL ABOUT SIGNS! Be sure to connect the meter so that the
black probe is connected to the side where the current goes into the element,
and the red probe is connected to the side where it comes out.
b. Next, you’ll measure the currents in the circuit. Set up the digital multimeter
as an ammeter (red probe in the mA connector, black probe in the GND or
COM connector, scale set to the DCA range).
Element
ΔV
I
VA
VB
R1
R2
R3
Physics 200 Spring 2015
©Miriam Simpson, Cuyamaca College
9
Questions:
1. In this case, there is more than one possible complete loop. Using the
measurements above, calculate the total voltage change for the following loops, if
you go around the loop clockwise:
a. through the VA, R1 and R3 _____________________ V
b. through the VB, R2 and R3 _____________________ V
c. through VA, R1, R2 and VB _____________________ V
d. Are your results consistent with Kirchhoff’s loop rule? If not, explain any
differences.
2. Pick a junction (there are two possible) Based on your measurements above,
calculate the following quantities:
a. total I flowing into junction __________________ mA
b. total I flowing out of junction __________________ mA
c. According to Kirchhoff’s junction rule, the total current flowing into any
junction should be equal to the total current flowing out of the junction. Are
your results consistent with Kirchhoff’s junction rule? If not, explain any
differences.
Physics 200 Spring 2015
©Miriam Simpson, Cuyamaca College
10
C. Analyze this circuit formally. Consider the circuit. Notice that none of the resistors
are in simple series or parallel combinations. In a case like this, you can use
Kirchhoff’s rules to predict the currents flowing in the circuit since Ohm’s law only
works for each specific element.
DO NOT DISMANTLE YOUR CIRCUIT UNTIL YOU HAVE GOTTEN YOUR
MEASURED VALUES TO MATCH YOUR THEORETICAL VALUES!!!!!!!
1. Using Kirchoff’s Laws, solve for the three currents symbolically in terms of the
variables R1, R2, R3, VA and VB. Show your work on a separate sheet of paper
stapled to the lab and then write your answers in the chart. (If you choose to
solve this problem via matrices in a calculator or on the computer you must either
print out your code or describe the steps you used).
2. Plug in the values for your resistors and then write the numeric answers in the
chart.
3. Use your measurements for the actual currents to check your prediction. Set up
the circuit, and measure the currents through each resistor. Record your results
below (I1 is the current through R1, I1 is the current through R1, I1 is the current
through R1). If the size or direction of the current are significantly different from
those you calculated, check with the instructor.
Current
Numerical
(theory)
Numerical
(measured)
I1
I2
I3
Physics 200 Spring 2015
©Miriam Simpson, Cuyamaca College
11
Questions:
1. Do the measured values match the predicted values within the bounds of
experimental error? If not, what might be the source of any differences?
2. What do you think would happen if you chose a very large R2?
Physics 200 Spring 2015
©Miriam Simpson, Cuyamaca College
12

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