Electrical circuits is the one area in engineering school I completely sucked at because I had a knack for letting out the magic smoke of many a project. Well, I’m back at it. Hopefully, I’m a bit more knowledgeable now & I’m definitely staying away from capacitors.

I have here a pretty cool project cribbed modified from a task published by the Georgia Department of Education.

**The 8 second summary:** practice solving for total resistance then assemble several resistors into an equivalent resistor using concepts of *series* and *parallel* circuits. Students will be solving rational equations throughout the project.

Below is a circuit that comes early in the project. Students are learning to apply the formula for resistors in parallel.

Here’s a more complex circuit. One of the problems is sufficiently complex that some students will need hints on solving the equation. I’ve split the hints out in a separate file, available to only those students who need it.

After students have a chance to get comfortable with the formulas for resistors in series and parallel, the project puts them in a challenging situation: build a circuit with resistance equivalent to a given value (even though none of the individual resistors have the particular value I’m looking for).

I will have actual resistors and an ohm meter on hand for the final phase of the project.

The files: Student Edition (PDF | Word 2007) & Hints (PDF | Word 2007)

Materials: Copies of the Student Edition, resistors (Ebayed), and an ohm meter (borrowed from the physics department).

**Georgia Performance Standards: MM1A3d Solve simple rational equations**

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Ha. Had to look up what magic smoke was. I realize that I have seen purplish red magic smoke when incorrectly installing RAM once. I really like this one and am thinking about spinning it into a robotics context.

Would you mind sharing a link back here when you complete your modifications? I also coach robotics and hadn’t thought about this task in a few years — maybe it’s time to resurrect the assignment.

Definitely. Not sure when I will get around to it but I can’t find any other application of rational equations so it would be worth the effort.