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Resistance Wire Investigation

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Ollie Fleming 10G

Resistance Wire Investigation


Resistance wire is used for various applications, including heating/lighting elements and resistors, and is made in different types and thickneses.  The resistance of a wire (a property of any object or substance of resisting or opposing the flow of an electrical current) can be calculated with the necessary measurements using ohm’s law – V/A = R, the resistance of a wire varies depending on its length, type and thickness.


The aim of this investigation is to determine if the length of resistance wire affects its resistance, and if so how.

Preliminary Experiment

A brief preliminary experiment was carried out determine the variant factor to be changed, power pack voltage to be used and to set any other possible variables in our final experiment.  

The possible factors to investigate were:

  • The length of the wire
  • The type of wire
  • The thickness of wire

We took some approximate results and observed different types and lengths of wire at different voltages.  

We concluded firstly that high voltages (over about 6V) and low wire lengths (under 20cm) caused overheating, and eventually snapping the wire.  Secondly we found out that the length of wire would be the easiest factor to vary, although to get a wide enough range of results we would need to take our measurements over a large scale, at for example 5cm gaps.

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The calculated resistance of the wire will increase significantly as the length of the wire increases.


I think the resistance of the wire will increase fairly steadily as the length of the wire goes up, creating a reasonably strong positive correlation.  However some of the lower length results may be a bit out of sequence due to slight overheating.  I think the calculated resistance will start at almost nothing (at 10cm) and

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I think the method I chose was probably the best option especially as it was not chosen to be as accurate as possible, but to meet the following criteria:

  • easy to take results and measurements
  • quick and easy to set up, and dismantle each lesson
  • cheap
  •  not particularly time consuming
  • not to involve any complex equipment

There are also some specific problems that could have occurred in the method, and possibly caused inaccurate results:

  • The wire could have over-heated at low lengths and altered the materials resistance
  • The power packs and meters can be quite hard to use accurately
  • It is hard to measure the exact length of the test wire
  • There may have been faults or slight differences in the wire used
  • The ambient temperature may have affected equipment

Although, in my opinion many of the above were unavoidable, especially whilst trying to meet the criteria, and overall I still feel my results are very accurate.  

Some of these points lead to possible improvements in the method as well as more questions and possible investigations.  For example we could have tried to get the length of wire more exact, as well as possibly trying to control the environment of the experiment, including ambient temperature.  It would be interesting to investigate further some of the flaws, for example; the affect of heat on the wire’s resistance, or how the resistance of the wire may change over time or strenuous/continued use.

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