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In the Resistance and Resistivity Inquiry Lab Kit for AP® Physics 1, identify how resistivity, length and gauge affect resistance.

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AP Physics 1, Big Idea 1, Investigation 16

All matter has one thing in common—resistivity, an intrinsic property that resists the flow of electricity. However, resistivity is a small part of determining the resistance of a specific material. Metal wire is a terrific conductor, but the length and thickness (gauge) of the wire can hinder the flow of electricity. In this advanced-inquiry lab, students study how these three factors—resistivity, length and gauge—affect resistance.

Students begin by investigating the resistance of nichrome wire using a multimeter and varying the separation of the measuring probes. This procedure provides a model for the guided-inquiry activity, during which students design an experiment to determine the effect the gauge of wire has on resistance. Error analysis of resistivity for each gauge of wire provides students with a method to assess their experimental design. Students may also investigate further by studying the effect temperature has on resistance.

Complete for 24 students working in pairs. Multimeters and meter sticks are required and available separately. All materials are reusable.

Correlation to Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)

Science & Engineering Practices

Developing and using models
Planning and carrying out investigations
Analyzing and interpreting data
Using mathematics and computational thinking
Constructing explanations and designing solutions
Obtaining, evaluation, and communicating information

Disciplinary Core Ideas

HS-PS3.A: Definitions of Energy
HS-PS4.A: Wave Properties
HS-PS3.D: Energy in Chemical Processes
HS-PS3.C: Relationship between Energy and Forces
HS-PS1.A: Structure and Properties of Matter

Crosscutting Concepts

Cause and effect
Systems and system models
Energy and matter
Structure and function
Stability and change

Performance Expectations

HS-PS4-1. Use mathematical representations to support a claim regarding relationships among the frequency, wavelength, and speed of waves traveling in various media.
HS-PS3-5. Develop and use a model of two objects interacting through electric or magnetic fields to illustrate the forces between objects and the changes in energy of the objects due to the interaction.
HS-PS2-6. Communicate scientific and technical information about why the molecular-level structure is important in the functioning of designed materials.