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published by the PhET
In this simulation, learners explore how a capacitor works. Change the size of the plates and distance between them to analyze factors affecting capacitance. Change the voltage and watch charges build up on the plates. Connect the digital voltmeter to measure voltage. The basic system includes battery and parallel plates. For a more advanced version, click "Light Bulb" to connect a charged capacitor to a bulb for observation of a discharging RC circuit.
Editor's Note: HTML5 simulation opens easily in all major browsers and is ready to run on tablets and mobile devices.
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Education Practices
- Active Learning
= Modeling
Electricity & Magnetism
- Capacitance
= Capacitors
- DC Circuits
= RC Circuits
- High School
- Lower Undergraduate
- Instructional Material
= Interactive Simulation
Appropriate Courses Categories Ratings
- Physical Science
- Physics First
- Conceptual Physics
- Algebra-based Physics
- AP Physics
- Activity
- New teachers
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Access Rights:
Free access
This material is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 license.
Rights Holder:
University of Colorado
circuits, electric field, parallel plate
Record Cloner:
Metadata instance created December 23, 2017 by Caroline Hall
Record Updated:
September 2, 2018 by Caroline Hall
Last Update
when Cataloged:
December 22, 2017

Next Generation Science Standards

Disciplinary Core Ideas (K-12)

Definitions of Energy (PS3.A)
  • These relationships are better understood at the microscopic scale, at which all of the different manifestations of energy can be modeled as a combination of energy associated with the motion of particles and energy associated with the configuration (relative position of the particles). In some cases the relative position energy can be thought of as stored in fields (which mediate interactions between particles). This last concept includes radiation, a phenomenon in which energy stored in fields moves across space. (9-12)
Relationship Between Energy and Forces (PS3.C)
  • When two objects interacting through a field change relative position, the energy stored in the field is changed. (9-12)

Crosscutting Concepts (K-12)

Cause and Effect (K-12)
  • Systems can be designed to cause a desired effect. (9-12)
  • Cause and effect relationships can be suggested and predicted for complex natural and human designed systems by examining what is known about smaller scale mechanisms within the system. (9-12)
Systems and System Models (K-12)
  • Models (e.g., physical, mathematical, computer models) can be used to simulate systems and interactions—including energy, matter, and information flows—within and between systems at different scales. (9-12)

NGSS Science and Engineering Practices (K-12)

Developing and Using Models (K-12)
  • Modeling in 9–12 builds on K–8 and progresses to using, synthesizing, and developing models to predict and show relationships among variables between systems and their components in the natural and designed worlds. (9-12)
    • Use a model based on evidence to illustrate the relationships between systems or between components of a system. (9-12)
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Record Link
AIP Format
(PhET, Boulder, 2017), WWW Document, (https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/capacitor-lab-basics).
PhET Capacitor Lab Basics - HTML5, (PhET, Boulder, 2017), <https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/capacitor-lab-basics>.
APA Format
PhET Capacitor Lab Basics - HTML5. (2017, December 22). Retrieved January 21, 2019, from PhET: https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/capacitor-lab-basics
Chicago Format
PhET. PhET Capacitor Lab Basics - HTML5. Boulder: PhET, December 22, 2017. https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/capacitor-lab-basics (accessed 21 January 2019).
MLA Format
PhET Capacitor Lab Basics - HTML5. Boulder: PhET, 2017. 22 Dec. 2017. 21 Jan. 2019 <https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/capacitor-lab-basics>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Title = {PhET Capacitor Lab Basics - HTML5}, Publisher = {PhET}, Volume = {2019}, Number = {21 January 2019}, Month = {December 22, 2017}, Year = {2017} }
Refer Export Format

%T PhET Capacitor Lab Basics - HTML5
%D December 22, 2017
%C Boulder
%U https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/capacitor-lab-basics
%O text/html

EndNote Export Format

%0 Electronic Source
%D December 22, 2017
%T PhET Capacitor Lab Basics - HTML5
%V 2019
%N 21 January 2019
%8 December 22, 2017
%9 text/html
%U https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/capacitor-lab-basics

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