Vernier Software and Technology
Vernier Software & Technology

Energy Storage in Capacitors


The goal of this activity is for students to investigate factors that affect energy storage in a capacitor and develop a model that describes energy in terms of voltage applied and the size of the capacitor.

In the Preliminary Observations, students observe a simple RC circuit that charges a capacitor and then discharges the capacitor through a light bulb. After a brief review of RC circuits, students will discuss the energy transformations in the circuit.

Students will then design and execute an investigation to determine how the charging voltage and capacitance affect the capacitor's ability to store electrical energy.

Learning Outcomes

  • Design and perform an investigation.
  • Draw a conclusion from evidence.
  • Understand that the energy stored in a capacitor is proportional to its capacitance and to the square of the voltage across it.

Sensors and Equipment

This experiment features the following Vernier sensors and equipment.

Option 1

Option 2

Option 3

Option 4

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

  • Cause and Effect
  • Systems and System Models
  • Energy and Matter
  • Stability and Change

Science and Engineering Practices

  • Developing and Using Models
  • Planning and Carrying Out Investigations
  • Analyzing and Interpreting Data
  • Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions
  • Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking

Experiment 32 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.

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