Vernier Software and Technology
Vernier Software & Technology

Voltage and Circuits

Figure from experiment 4 from Renewable Energy with Vernier


You have used electricity throughout your life, but do you know what it is? Electricity can be the sparks and crackling when clothing is pulled apart, and it can be lightning during a storm. It can also be channeled through wires and put to work turning fans, toasting bread, lighting lamps, and connecting you to the world over television, the internet, and phones.

The particles that make up atoms have a property known as charge. It is the presence and motion of these charged particles that gives rise to the phenomenon known as electricity. While we cannot see the charged particles themselves, we are able to investigate how they behave in various devices and materials.

The moving particles in an atom are in the outermost part of the atom’s structure and are called electrons. Electrons are about 2000 times smaller than the other particles that make up atoms. Their small size, as well as other factors, makes electrons the easiest part of an atom to push and move. Electrons typically do not move very far or very fast, but very large numbers of them moving at once can deliver a painful shock or heat your home.

Two terms that are used when discussing electricity are voltage and current. Voltage is a colloquial term for potential difference, which is a way of describing the available energy for electrons to use for moving. The unit used to measure potential difference is the volt (V). Current is the term for the flow of charged particles. In general, the higher the voltage, the more energy is available for electrons to use, and the greater the current. Current is measured in a unit called the ampere (A).

In this experiment, you will have an opportunity to use electricity in small, safe amounts. By investigating how electricity interacts with different objects, you will gradually learn to use electricity effectively to create your own circuits, systems, and devices.


  • Detect the presence of current in a wire.
  • Explore different types of light bulbs.
  • Measure voltage.

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?

Renewable Energy with Vernier

See other experiments from the lab book.

1Renewable Energy: Why is it So Important?
2What is Energy?
3Project: Energy Audit
4Voltage and Circuits
5Current and Resistors
6Mechanical Power
8Exploring Wind Turbines
9Effect of Load on Wind Turbine Output
10Blade Variables and Power Output
12Turbine Efficiency
13Power Curves
14Power and Energy
15Project: Maximum Energy Output
16Project: Build a Wind Farm
17Exploring Solar Panels
18AEffect of Load on Solar Panel Output
18BFill Factor and IV Curve of a Solar Panel
19Variables Affecting Solar Panel Output
20Effect of Temperature on Solar Panel Output
21Project: Build a Solar Charger
22Exploring Passive Solar Heating
23Variables Affecting Passive Solar Heating
24Exploring Solar Collectors
25Variables Affecting Solar Collectors
26Project: Solar Cooker

Experiment 4 from Renewable Energy with Vernier Lab Book

<i>Renewable Energy 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.

Buy the Book

Dev Reference: VST0664

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