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Proving the formulae for series and parallel resistance: results

Measuring resistors in series

When resistors are connected in series the total resistance of the circuit is the sum of the individual resistances.

The formula for series resistance can be written as:

RT = R1 + R2 + R3 + …

Measuring resistors in series

When resistors are connected in parallel the total resistance of the circuit is always less than any of the individual resistances.

The total resistance for any number of resistors in parallel can be calculated using the formula:

RT = 1 / ( (1/R1) + (1/R2) + (1/R3) + …)

Teachers’ notes

Time required:15 minutes to get the computer, software and DrDAQ working correctly. 3 to 5 minutes for students to connect up resistors and make single measurements.

Target age groups:
Ages 12–19 (Science Key Stages levels 4 and 5)

National curriculum:
Although not specifically listed in the Science National Curriculum, many teachers would consider this as a useful extension activity. Most single award GCSE Physics courses do require knowledge in this area, as do Electronics and Design Technology courses. Post-16 courses in these same subjects would be likewise.

Keep in mind the resolution and accuracy with which DrDAQ displays resistance values, and DrDAQs resistance measuring range when choosing the resistor values.