published by
the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
supported by
the International Business Machines

In this high school lab, students design and build one of the basic circuits of electrical engineering: the voltage divider -- a form of linear circuit capable of producing a wide range of output voltages. The lesson provides scaffolding as students explore the mathematical relationships of parallel and series resistors as they build light emitting diodes. The driving question of the lesson: How do electrical engineers apply Ohm's law in the design of electrical circuits?

The lesson follows 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. The lesson plan and student worksheets are available for download. This collection maintained by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

Editor's Note:This lesson is a stand-out because of the comprehensive supplemental material, including step-by-step breadboard instructions and matrices of possible voltage outputs. For additional student practice, see Related Materials to download an editor-recommended worksheet on voltage divider electronics (37 problems with answers provided).

6-8: 3A/M3. Engineers, architects, and others who engage in design and technology use scientific knowledge to solve practical problems. They also usually have to take human values and limitations into account.

9-12: 3A/H2. Mathematics, creativity, logic, and originality are all needed to improve technology.

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.

9. The Mathematical World

9B. Symbolic Relationships

6-8: 9B/M3. Graphs can show a variety of possible relationships between two variables. As one variable increases uniformly, the other may do one of the following: increase or decrease steadily, increase or decrease faster and faster, get closer and closer to some limiting value, reach some intermediate maximum or minimum, alternately increase and decrease, increase or decrease in steps, or do something different from any of these.

11. Common Themes

11A. Systems

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

12B. Computation and Estimation

9-12: 12B/H2. Find answers to real-world problems by substituting numerical values in simple algebraic formulas and check the answer by reviewing the steps of the calculation and by judging whether the answer is reasonable.

Common Core State Standards for Mathematics Alignments

Standards for Mathematical Practice (K-12)

MP.1 Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.

MP.5 Use appropriate tools strategically.

High School — Algebra (9-12)

Seeing Structure in Expressions (9-12)

A-SSE.1.a Interpret parts of an expression, such as terms, factors, and coefficients.

A-SSE.2 Use the structure of an expression to identify ways to rewrite it.

Reasoning with Equations and Inequalities (9-12)

A-REI.6 Solve systems of linear equations exactly and approximately (e.g., with graphs), focusing on pairs of linear equations in two variables.

High School — Functions (9-12)

Interpreting Functions (9-12)

F-IF.4 For a function that models a relationship between two quantities, interpret key features of graphs and tables in terms of the quantities, and sketch graphs showing key features given a verbal description of the relationship.^{?}

Building Functions (9-12)

F-BF.3 Identify the effect on the graph of replacing f(x) by f(x) + k, k f(x), f(kx), and f(x + k) for specific values of k (both positive and negative); find the value of k given the graphs. Experiment with cases and illustrate an explanation of the effects on the graph using technology. Include recognizing even and odd functions from their graphs and algebraic expressions for them.

This resource is part of 2 Physics Front Topical Units.

Topic: Electricity and Electrical Energy Unit Title: Moving Charges and Electric Circuits

This stand-out lesson from the Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers gives step-by-step instructions for designing and building a voltage divider -- a form of linear circuit capable of producing a wide range of output voltages. Students explore the mathematical relationships of parallel & series resistors as they build LED's. It is intended as the 3rd in a set of circuit lessons by the same publisher.

Topic: Electricity and Electrical Energy Unit Title: Resistance and Ohm's Law

This stand-out lesson from the Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers gives step-by-step instructions for designing and building a voltage divider -- a form of linear circuit capable of producing a wide range of output voltages. Students explore the mathematical relationships of parallel & series resistors as they build LED's. It is intended as the 3rd in a set of circuit lessons by the same publisher.

<a href="https://www.compadre.org/precollege/items/detail.cfm?ID=12311">International Business Machines. TryEngineering: Using Ohm’s Law to Build a Voltage Divider. Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, December 4, 2010.</a>

TryEngineering: Using Ohm’s Law to Build a Voltage Divider (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, 2010), <https://tryengineering.org/teacher/using-ohms-law-build-voltage-divider/>.

TryEngineering: Using Ohm’s Law to Build a Voltage Divider. (2010, December 4). Retrieved June 20, 2024, from Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers: https://tryengineering.org/teacher/using-ohms-law-build-voltage-divider/

International Business Machines. TryEngineering: Using Ohm’s Law to Build a Voltage Divider. Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, December 4, 2010. https://tryengineering.org/teacher/using-ohms-law-build-voltage-divider/ (accessed 20 June 2024).

TryEngineering: Using Ohm’s Law to Build a Voltage Divider. Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, 2010. 4 Dec. 2010. International Business Machines. 20 June 2024 <https://tryengineering.org/teacher/using-ohms-law-build-voltage-divider/>.

@misc{
Title = {TryEngineering: Using Ohm’s Law to Build a Voltage Divider},
Publisher = {Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers},
Volume = {2024},
Number = {20 June 2024},
Month = {December 4, 2010},
Year = {2010}
}

%T TryEngineering: Using Ohm's Law to Build a Voltage Divider %D December 4, 2010 %I Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers %U https://tryengineering.org/teacher/using-ohms-law-build-voltage-divider/ %O application/pdf

%0 Electronic Source %D December 4, 2010 %T TryEngineering: Using Ohm's Law to Build a Voltage Divider %I Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers %V 2024 %N 20 June 2024 %8 December 4, 2010 %9 application/pdf %U https://tryengineering.org/teacher/using-ohms-law-build-voltage-divider/

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A set of 37 problems (with answers) on the focused topic of voltage divider circuits, appropriate for introductory physics, applied physics, or electronics courses.

This is a simpler lab activity for Grades 8-12, designed for students with little prior exposure to Ohm's Law. Students build simple circuits and use a digital multimeter to explore mathematical relationships.