Vernier Software and Technology
Vernier Software & Technology

Measuring Electric Current

Figure from experiment 19 from Physics Explorations and Projects


The purpose of this investigation is for students to learn how to measure current without direct instruction.

For the Preliminary Observations, demonstrate how to measure current in a simple circuit that consists of a power source, a current-measuring device, and one incandescent light bulb. Students will observe that bulb brightness increases as measured current increases.

Students experimentally determine how to use the current probe to accurately measure the current in a circuit with multiple light bulbs. The circuit will contain another current sensor and a "test" light bulb that will aid them in their observations.

Learning Outcomes

  • Understand that ammeters must be connected in series with the circuit element where current is being measured.
  • Begin to develop the concept that "resistance" reduces current, that there is little resistance for current to flow through an ammeter, and that current has a tendency to flow along the path of least resistance.
  • Learn the conventions of "+" and "–" signs of electric current (if desired by the instructor).

Sensors and Equipment

This experiment features the following Vernier sensors and equipment.

Option 1

Option 2

Additional Requirements

You may also need an interface and software for data collection. What do I need for data collection?

Next Generation Science Standards

Disciplinary Core Ideas

  • PS3.A Definitions of Energy
  • PS3.B Conservation of Energy and Energy Transfer

Crosscutting Concepts

  • Patterns
  • Cause and Effect
  • Systems and System Models
  • Energy and Matter

Science and Engineering Practices

  • Planning and Carrying Out Investigations
  • Analyzing and Interpreting Data

Experiment 19 from Physics Explorations and Projects Lab Book

<i>Physics Explorations and Projects</i> book cover

Included in the Lab Book

Vernier lab books include word-processing files of the student instructions, essential teacher information, suggested answers, sample data and graphs, and more.

Buy the Book

Go to top