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The Relationship Between I and V in a Series Circuit

Aim: To find the relationship between the Current (I) in a resistor and the voltage (V) across a
resistor in a series circuit.

Note that the aim is very similar to the title but gives a little more detail about what you are

Apparatus: The best and most straightforward way to do this is to draw a labelled diagram of
the apparatus. Usually it is simply a copy of the diagram that will be given to you on
your starter sheet.

+ - power


resistor V


Procedure: The apparatus was set up as in the diagram above. The dial on the variable power
supply was turned until the voltage reading on the voltmeter read 1V. At this point
the ammeter reading was noted. This was repeated for several different voltages.

You do not have to say too much here but what you say is important. You must state how
the independent variable (the voltage in this case) was varied. You must also explain
how any reading was taken, remembering to mention the name of the measuring

It is also customary to describe what you did without the words “I” or “we” and in the past
tense. This is known as the passive impersonal voice in the past tense. Although
you will not fail if you do not do this, it is the accepted way that experimental reports
are written.

Results: Usually presented as a table of results.

Firstly you must repeat the experiment four times to give you five sets of results.
This is required to make the calculation of the approximate random uncertainty
The heading of the columns must show any reading uncertainty. You can often decide this,
e.g. whatever half a scale division was. Sometimes a certain piece of equipment will
have an uncertainty given in the manufacturers handbook. If this is the case, as with
the multi-meters used here, use it.
Both the average and the approximate random uncertainty should be rounded to the
same level of accuracy as the initial data..
Voltage / V Current / mA + (2%+1)
+ (2%+0.1)
Trial Trial Trial Trial Trial Average Approximate
1 2 3 4 5 Random
1.0 45 44 45 46 46 45 0

2.0 91 94 89 91 91 91 1
3.0 136 132 137 135 136 135 1
4.0 182 180 178 184 185 182 1
5.0 227 224 229 229 226 227 1
6.0 273 270 274 276 272 273 1

Uncertainties: Under the table you should give an explanation as to where your
uncertainties came from. For example in this case:

The reading uncertainty in both the voltmeter and ammeter was taken from the
manufacturers handbook.

The approximate random uncertainty was calculated using the formula –

Approximate random = Range of results_

uncertainty Number of results

Graph: Graphs can be “drawn” using a pc and a package such as excel. However, the line of
best fit must be drawn by hand and therefore you may find it just as easy to do the
whole thing by hand. The use of the likes of excel does, however, allow you to
check your line of best fit by against what the package plots.

Remember it is the average dependent variables measurement that you plot against the
dependent variable.
 Make sure you remember the simple rules about graph drawing:
 The independent variable goes along the x-axis.
 The dependent variable goes up the y-axis.
 Label each axis and remember the units.
 The scale on each axis must rise in equal jumps.
 Since we generally want to see if the line passes through the origin, make
sure that the origin appears on both axes. No squiggly lines.
 Make sure your points (or crosses) are big enough to be seen under the line
when you draw it.
 Do not force your line of best fit to go through the origin if it doesn’t. You
can try to explain why not in your evaluation at the end.
Conclusion: The current in a resistor varies directly with the voltage across the resistor.
The conclusion does not have to be long and should refer back to the aim.

Evalution: Firstly you do not have to comment on all the points that appear on the “advice to
candidates” sheet. Also the closer your line is to passing through all the points the
less you will probably have to say.

Below are the kinds of comments that are required.

Note if your line does not pass through the origin there has probably been something
to cause this. We will discuss this as a class and then you can explain the reason in
your own words.

I will always discuss various evaluation points with you as a class. Make sure you
take note of these at the time so that you can use them in your write-up.

• The power supply was switched off between each set of results. This
allowed the resistor to cool down to the same starting temperature for each
• The same power supply and resistor were used throughout the experiment.
• If time had allowed, more pairs have readings could have been taken. This
would have allowed to judge more easily the line of best fit.