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Investigate how the electrical resistance of a wire changes in relationship to it's length.

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Physics Investigation Of Resistance

Aim: to investigate how the electrical resistance of a wire changes in relationship to it’s length.

Prediction: I think that as the length of the wire increases so to will the resistance of it. I also believe that the rate at which the resistance of the wire increases will be directly proportional to the length. The graph to show this should therefore look something like this:

Reason: with electricity, the property that transforms electrical energy into heat energy, in opposing electrical current, is resistance. A property of the atoms of all conductors is that they have free electrons in the outer shell of their structure. All metals are conductors and have an arrangement in similar form to this:

As a result of the structure of all conductive atoms, the outer electrons are able to move about freely even in a solid. When there is a potential difference across a conductive material all of the free electrons arrange themselves in lines moving in the same direction. This forms an electrical current. Resistance is encountered when the charged particles that make up the current collide with other fixed particles in the material. As the resistance of a material increases so to must the force required to drive the same amount of current. In fact resistance, in ohms(R) is equal to the electromotive force or potential difference, in volts (V) divided by the current, in amperes (I) – Ohm´s law.

As the length of the wire is increased the number of collisions the current carrying charged particles make with fixed particles also increases and therefore the value for the resistance of the wire becomes higher. Resistance, in ohms (R) is also equal to the resistivity of the wire, in ohm-meters (ñ) multiplied by the length, in meters (l)

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The accuracy for this experiment is, theoretically, ± 15.7%, but as one can see this does not seem to be the case from looking at the graph. The reason for this could have been due to a number of different factors. Firstly the temperature of the wire was not necessarily 20©C when we conducted the experiment and the material of wire may not be as pure as it should have been. The main reason for this was probably due to the equipment that we used being inaccurate. This did not stop us from seeing the trend, though, because the equipment would have been out by a constant amount each time therefore there was a constant error. So the trends that were predicted in the plan still were shown.

Most errors in our experiment were encountered in the measuring of the wire. This is because it simply was not very practical to hold a piece of wire straight, whilst holding it next to a ruler and then trying to accurately fix crocodile clips to the right part on the wire. Also I do not feel that the crocodile clips were always fixed securely to the wire with a good connection. This also meant that they were easy to move about on the wire changing the length of it. Errors rarely occurred in the setting of the current and the reading of the voltage. It was just in the preparation area that they did occur. Another example of this is the wire was never totally straight when we started the experiment, which may also, as said earlier on, effect the resistance of it.

I do not think that doing any more results in our experiment would have made it any more accurate.

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As well as making these modifications, I could also expand on my investigation by testing the same wire but different widths of that wire. I would do this if I had more time to complete it. I think the circuit and method used was quite suitable although I would make the modifications above to improve my results. If I did this experiment again I would defiantly use top quality equipment, I would probably control the temperature and use pointers instead of crocodile clips. After changing those few things, there is not really much difference to how I would do the experiment again.

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