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Electric Circuits Activity—Series vs Parallel Circuits

In this lab student set up two circuits each having two batteries and two bulbs however in the first the bulbs are in series and in the second they are in parallel. By closing the circuits and studying the results students begin to see the major difference between the two types of electric circuits. The extension idea suggests that students continue to add more lights (up to five) to each of the circuits to test whether their conclusions hold true. 

This activity gives experience with series and parallel circuits and begins to introduce the idea of how the resistance in each is affected. Students are asked to draw a simple circuit diagram showing their setup. 

Concepts Addressed 
♦ When lights are placed in series, their brightness dims 
♦ When lights are placed in parallel, their brightness is unaffected 
♦ A 1.5V battery can light up to 5 twinkle lights in series but many more when wired in parallel

Materials Needed
10 twinkle lights, 4 alligator clips, 4 1.5V batteries, 4 battery holders

Time Required This lab takes about 40 mins. 

Student Sheets • Scaffolded writing prompts & lab reporting 

Electric Circuits Activity—Series vs Parallel Circuits


    Answer Keys and Teacher Notes address most questions and issues that might arise in this study—you shouldn’t have to do any outside research unless you want to.

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