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Investigating how the length of a piece of wire affects resistance in a circuit.

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Stephanie Wickers1st July, 2003

Investigating how the length of a piece of wire affects resistance in a circuit


Resistance is measurement which describes how difficult or how easy it is for an electron to flow through a conductor in a circuit. Resistance is measured in Ohms.

        In this investigation I am going to be trying to find out and do further research into why resistance is affected by the length of a piece of wire.


        There are many factors effecting resistance in a circuit and the four main ones are Length, Temperature, Material, and Thickness. I have done research to find out how and why these factors affect resistance.

        If the length of the wire is increased then the resistance will also increase proportionally. This happens because the electron has further to travel in the circuit and therefore there is more chance of a collision between an atom and an electron.

        If the thickness of the wire increases then the resistance will decrease and if the thickness decreases the resistance will increase. This is because the increase in area will enable the electrons to move around more freely. This in turn will reduce the number of collisions between atoms and electrons and will lower the resistance as the flow of electrons is not interrupted as much by the atoms in the wire.

        If the wire is heated the atoms in the wire will vibrate due to the increase in energy. This will cause more collisions and higher the resistance. This is because the atoms will be vibrating into the path of the electrons and causing collisions. This increase in collisions is the reason for the increase in resistance.

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        For this particular experiment, I found that there is no blatant observation to be made i.e. observing a reaction or change take place. However, there is one observation that can be made and stated which is taking down the readings from the ammeter and voltmeter. I will then simply look and write down the values of the voltage and current and use them to calculate the resistance.


         As I stated earlier, I am going to record three sets of data and then calculate an average for the data. Below are my three tables of results and my table of averages.

Set 1

Length of wire

Ammeter Reading (A)

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        Other areas in the experiment which I feel I could have improved on were factors like controlling the temperature because although difficult it is a very important factor which can ruin results if not controlled. Measuring the lengths of the wire is also an inaccuracy that could be improved, as the rulers used are not exact it is difficult to get an accurate reading of length by eye, as the wire may not be completely straight and it could be a different thickness at different points along the length. These could well have contributed towards error. These results would be difficult to improve on as they are reasonably accurate and there were only slight anomalies in the results.

        Nevertheless, if I were to do this experiment again I would use newer, more accurate ammeters and voltmeters, a more accurate method of measurement and take a much wider range of readings, and more readings so that a more accurate average can be taken.

        Overall, this investigation has been a very successful one. I feel my results and analysis have been as accurate as they could have been under the time allocated circumstances. However I feel with extra time, I could have repeated the experiment and made it even more accurate and adapted it to try other variables. These would be things like investigating the effect of cross sectional area or temperature eon the resistance of wire.        

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