Vernier Software and Technology
Vernier Software & Technology

Charging Up, Charging Down - Charging a Capacitor


A capacitor is an electronic component used to store electrical energy. Many of the devices you use on a daily basis, such as your calculator, rely on capacitors as part of their electronic circuitry. Cameras use capacitors, too. Before using an electronic flash, energy is transferred from the camera battery to a capacitor. That energy quickly dissipates in the flash unit when you press the shutter release. The result is a bright flash!

In this activity, you will collect voltage data from a discharging capacitor using a Voltage Probe. The capacitor will be connected to another circuit element called a resistor, which controls the rate at which the capacitor discharges. You will then compare the exponential model to the data you collect.


  • Record potential versus time data for a discharging capacitor.
  • Model potential data using an exponential function.

Sensors and Equipment

This activity features the following Vernier sensors and equipment.

Additional Requirements

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

Standards Correlations

See all standards correlations for Real-World Math with Vernier »

Activity 17 from Real-World Math with Vernier Lab Book

<i>Real-World Math with Vernier</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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