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

Physics Explorations and Projects

See other experiments from the lab book.

1Constant Motion and Changing Motion
2Balanced Forces and Unbalanced Forces
3Gravitation on Earth
4Newton’s Second Law
5Projectile Challenge
6Impulse and Momentum
7Equilibrium of Forces
8Circular Motion
9Conservation of Momentum
10Egg Protection Challenge
11Springs Making Things Move
12Kinetic Energy and Mass
13Work and Kinetic Energy
14Work Done by Gravity
15Energy in Collisions
16Rube Goldberg Machine
17Charge and Charge Models
18Coulomb's Law
19Measuring Electric Current
20Conservation of Charge
21Voltage in a Circuit
22Battery Challenge
23Magnetic Field of a Current
24Current from a Changing Field
25Generating Electricity
27Wave Speed on a String
28Speed of Sound
29Interference and Diffraction
30Sound and Loudness
31Wave Communication Challenge
32Energy Storage in Capacitors
34Heat as Energy Transfer
35Solar Cells
36Rube Goldberg Machine Revisited

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