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What affects the resistance of a wire?

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What affects the resistance of a wire

These factors might affect the resistance of a wire:

The length of the wire.

In a long wire the current has to travel further through opposing atoms. In a  short wire the current has a shorter distance to travel and will be slowed down less by the atoms.

The thickness of the wire.

In a thin wire the atoms are packed tighter together and do not let the current through easily. In a fatter wire there is more wire for the current to flow down and it therefore travels more quickly.


In a wire that is heated the atoms gain more energy and vibrate rapidly leaving less space for the current to pass. If the wire is cold then the atoms lose energy and move about less giving the current an easier passage.

The type of metal used in the wire.

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Crocodile clips (2)

Water (500ml)

500ml Beaker




Bunsen burner

Connecting wire


Safety mat


  • Take the power pack, 26cms of copper wire, the ammeter and voltmeter, some connecting wire, two crocodile clips and the variable resister.  
  • Set up the apparatus to make a circuit as shown below.





  • Then take the bunsen burner, the safety mat, the beaker of water (500ml), the safety goggles and the thermometer.
  • Set the new apparatus up into the circuit as shown in the diagram.
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The results show no unusual or unexpected findings in the course of the graph. The resistance increased as the temperature of the wire increased but more slowly than I had predicted. However, the experiment proved that the hotter the wire the greater the resistance. I do not therefore think that the experiment needs to be changed in any way.

The experiment could be altered to combine a test using a longer wire. If the length of the wire was increased from say 26cms to 52cms, I would expect the results to show that resistance increased at a faster rate. This would be as a result of increased resistance due to the increase in the length of the wire. I would use the same method although I would probably need to wrap the wire around a piece of wood as the wire would not fit into the beaker without touching itself thus creating a shorter circuit.      

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