Physics 2240-509
2/28/18
Experiment 5:
Series and Parallel Circuits

Abstract
The experiment’s purpose is to understand how to calculate resistances for different types of
circuits that range from simple to complex, and to understand how to form parallel and series circuits.
During the experiment, students worked to create different types of circuits using resistors and wires,
and then using a computer program to measure the resistances and currents and used these to calculate
the measured equivalent resistance using equations that were given. The results showed the students how
electrical noise, a source for potential error, could cause small differences between the theoretical
equivalent resistance and the measured equivalent resistance. We also saw that our simple series circuit
had a measured R
eq
of 937.5 Ω, a simple parallel circuit had a measured R
eq
of 205.2 Ω, a simple series
parallel circuit had a measured R
eq
of 306.1 Ω, and complex series parallel circuit had a measured R
eq
of
383.6 Ω.
Introduction
The goal of this lab was to understand how to set up parallel and series circuits, and how to
calculate the resistances of both parallel and series circuits. The purpose was to help teach students how
series and parallel circuits work in a laboratory setting. The students used three different resistors and
cords to learn how to calculate resistances. Series circuits are a type of circuit that has only one path for
electricity to flow through, while parallel circuits have two or more paths for electrical current to flow
through. Resistors are tools that have a resistance of R and follow the rules of Ohm’s law (see below in
equations section). Power is the amount of work done at a certain time or the rate of energy transference.
The students placed resistors and cords on a circuit board in different patterns to create series, parallel,
simple series parallel and complex series parallel circuits to see how the different circuit times affect
calculation of resistance.