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published by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
supported by the International Business Machines
This module for Grades 5-9 asks students to apply knowledge of electric circuits in designing a system where one switch can turn on multiple lights. It provides a hands-on introduction to simple circuits, then progresses to analysis of parallel circuit construction. Students work in teams to predict the difference between the two circuit designs, and then build examples of the two circuits using wires, bulbs, and batteries. After testing several predictions about each circuit type, the groups will compare results and discuss findings.

This collection is part of, a website maintained by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. Lessons follow a module format that includes objectives and learner outcomes, problem sets, student guides, recommended reading, illustrated procedures, worksheets, and background information about the engineering connections.
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Education Practices
- Active Learning
Electricity & Magnetism
- DC Circuits
= Circuit Analysis
- Electromotive Force and Current
= Cells and Batteries
Other Sciences
- Engineering
- Middle School
- High School
- Elementary School
- Instructional Material
= Activity
= Instructor Guide/Manual
= Laboratory
= Lesson/Lesson Plan
= Student Guide
- Audio/Visual
= Image/Image Set
Intended Users Formats Ratings
- Educators
- Learners
- application/pdf
- text/html
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Safety Warnings
Minimal Danger   No Safety Equipment Necessary  

Access Rights:
Free access
© 2006 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
DC circuit labs, applied physics, circuit labs, current, electrical engineering, engineering lessons, parallel, resistance, series
Record Cloner:
Metadata instance created July 20, 2012 by Zachary Davis
Record Updated:
August 10, 2020 by Lyle Barbato
Last Update
when Cataloged:
December 4, 2010
Other Collections:

AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008 Version)

3. The Nature of Technology

3B. Design and Systems
  • 3-5: 3B/E1. There is no perfect design. Designs that are best in one respect (safety or ease of use, for example) may be inferior in other ways (cost or appearance). Usually some features must be sacrificed to get others.

4. The Physical Setting

4G. Forces of Nature
  • 6-8: 4G/M4. Electrical circuits require a complete loop through which an electrical current can pass.

8. The Designed World

8C. Energy Sources and Use
  • 6-8: 8C/M4. Electrical energy can be generated from a variety of energy resources and can be transformed into almost any other form of energy. Electric circuits are used to distribute energy quickly and conveniently to distant locations.

11. Common Themes

11A. Systems
  • 3-5: 11A/E1. In something that consists of many parts, the parts usually influence one another.
  • 3-5: 11A/E2. Something may not work well (or at all) if a part of it is missing, broken, worn out, mismatched, or misconnected.
  • 6-8: 11A/M2. Thinking about things as systems means looking for how every part relates to others. The output from one part of a system (which can include material, energy, or information) can become the input to other parts. Such feedback can serve to control what goes on in the system as a whole.
  • 9-12: 11A/H2. Understanding how things work and designing solutions to problems of almost any kind can be facilitated by systems analysis. In defining a system, it is important to specify its boundaries and subsystems, indicate its relation to other systems, and identify what its input and output are expected to be.

12. Habits of Mind

12D. Communication Skills
  • 3-5: 12D/E7. Write a clear and accurate description of a real-world object or event.
  • 6-8: 12D/M8. Explain a scientific idea to someone else, checking understanding and responding to questions.
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AIP Format
(Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, 2006), WWW Document, (
TryEngineering: Series and Parallel Circuits, (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, 2006), <>.
APA Format
TryEngineering: Series and Parallel Circuits. (2010, December 4). Retrieved September 28, 2021, from Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers:
Chicago Format
International Business Machines. TryEngineering: Series and Parallel Circuits. Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, December 4, 2010. (accessed 28 September 2021).
MLA Format
TryEngineering: Series and Parallel Circuits. Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, 2006. 4 Dec. 2010. International Business Machines. 28 Sep. 2021 <>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Title = {TryEngineering: Series and Parallel Circuits}, Publisher = {Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers}, Volume = {2021}, Number = {28 September 2021}, Month = {December 4, 2010}, Year = {2006} }
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%T TryEngineering: Series and Parallel Circuits %D December 4, 2010 %I Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers %U %O application/pdf

EndNote Export Format

%0 Electronic Source %D December 4, 2010 %T TryEngineering: Series and Parallel Circuits %I Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers %V 2021 %N 28 September 2021 %8 December 4, 2010 %9 application/pdf %U

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TryEngineering: Series and Parallel Circuits:

Is Simulated By PhET Simulation: Circuit Construction Kit (DC Only)

An interactive Java simulation that allows students to drag wires, resistors, bulbs, and switches to construct virtual circuits. Resistance and voltage can be modified, and circuits can be arranged in any geometry desired.

relation by Caroline Hall
Is By The Same Author and Covers a Similar Topic As TryEngineering: Get Connected With Ohm's Law

A more advanced lab that combines circuit construction with best-fit data plotting.

relation by Caroline Hall

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