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