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IB Physics Lab - Resistance

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Lab Template

On the following pages are a lab template designed for you to organize your lab reports.  The last page includes the marking rubric for how you will be assessed.

Here is a quick checklist you should follow for each lab:

  • Erase all of the template instructions given, remove bullets and italics unless instructed otherwise
  • Write in full sentences, with scientific accuracy.  Avoid colloquialisms.
  • Include all data points, labeled with units and uncertainties
  • Copy and paste graphs from Excel  
  • Graphs must be labeled with axes, units, and title, and error bars
  • All sections of the lab must be completed
  • Save your labs digitally, and keep in an organized folder  


Course:  DP Physics


Date:  09/13/09

Series and Parallel Circuits


  • This lab pertains to testing different resistors in series and parallel and calculating the total resistance, which allows one to see the relationship between the experimental resistance and the experimental resistance.  Resistors are used in everyday life.  For example, they are used in electronic equipment to limit the current that flows in them.    
  • There are two main types of electrical circuits:  series and parallel.  In series circuits there is only one way for the current to flow, but in parallel circuits the current has multiple paths.  
  • There are two formulas that are used in this lab:  image04.png
  • 1)  Equivalent resistance in series circuits =
  • In series circuits, the equivalent resistance (total resistance) is determined by simply adding all the resistors in that circuit.

      2)  Equivalent resistance in parallel circuits =

  • In parallel circuits, the equivalent resistance is determined by adding the reciprocals of each resistor and then taking the reciprocal of the sum.image05.png


  • The objective of this lab is to determine how the equivalent resistance of a collection of resistors in series or parallel depends on the individual resistors.


  • I believe that the theoretical equivalent resistance of a series circuit and a parallel circuit will always be slightly more than the experimental equivalent resistance.
  • I also believe that when more resistors are added in a circuit, either series or parallel, the percent error will increase.  


  • Resistors
  • Breadboard
  • Multimeter


1.   First, we obtained several different resistors, a breadboard, and a multimeter.

2.  Then we made 5 different series circuits with different combinations of resistors.

3.  Then we calculated the theoretical resistance of each of them and measured the actual resistance using the multimeter.  

4.  Then we repeated steps 2 and 3 but with parallel circuits.    

Data Points


...read more.



220Ω (x1)

470Ω (x1)


220Ω (x1)




470Ω (x2)






Percent Error


1KΩ (x1)




150Ω (x2)


1KΩ (x1)




220Ω (x2)

2KΩ (x1)


220Ω (x2)




470Ω (x1)


220Ω (x1)




470Ω (x1)

150Ω (x1)

2kΩ (x1)

...read more.


  • The two formulas that were used in this lab and stated in the introduction proved Ohm’s law effective, as the resistance formulas are based on Ohm’s law.  
  • My initial hypotheses were proven correct as they were that the theoretical equivalent resistance of a series circuit and a parallel circuit will always be slightly more than the experimental equivalent resistance and that when more resistors are added in a circuit, both in series and in parallel, the percent error will increase.  This all can be clearly seen on the data tables.  


  • This is the type of experiment that’s very valid.  This is due to the fact that the properties of electricity are constant and that we used precise measuring equipment.    
  • This experiment virtually doesn’t need any improvements or changes as it achieves it purpose in a quick, efficient way.
  • In my opinion, a good further assignment would be to research certain electronically appliances or devices and figure out the resistance of each of them, and find out why that specific resistance is applied to that appliance/device.  

...read more.

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