In this lab, students will build a series circuit using a battery, four different resistors and a switch. Students will use a multimeter to measure the voltage and current for each resistor, and then use Ohm's law to calculate the resistance for each resistor. Students will plot their data to identify the relationship between current and resistance. This lab not only includes pre-lab questions, procedures, results table and a scaffolded graphing section, but also a scaffolded rough draft. After completing the lab, students will use sentence starters to write a full lab report including introduction, materials, methods, results, results summary and conclusion. I use the same template for all my labs and students quickly adapt to the format and are able to complete a full lab report without scaffolding by the end of the year.
The lab is fantastic because students get experience building circuits, testing out relationships between variables, calculating physics problems, graphing, and scientific writing. The real world applications also help bring Ohm's law to life for students. With the circuit building, measurements, and writing, the lab can take up to three 75 minute periods. If the writing is assigned for homework, two days is sufficient.
Students should understand Ohm's Law, building series circuits, basic use of a multimeter, and insulators and conductors before beginning the lab.
*Update: I have revised the background reading to include even more real world applications to help your students take their thinking to the next level. Additional pre-lab questions focus on the purpose of the lab and identifying relationships within Ohm's Law.