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This popular PhET circuit simulator has been rewritten to HTML5. As with the original version, students can drag wires, batteries, resistors, light bulbs, and switches to build a simple or more complex circuit. Common "real world" objects are also available (what happens if you add a coin or an eraser to the circuit?) You can modify the resistance and voltage and then measure values with the digital ammeter and/or voltmeter. Circuit elements can be arranged in any geometry desired; they are not required to connect to a grid. Circuits can be viewed as lifelike images or as schematic symbols. This resource is part of a large collection of simulations freely available from the Physics Education Technology (PhET) group at the University of Colorado. Note: The  original Java version of this simulation is similar, and also contains a "Help" section with tips for users. A link can be found within the main page for the DC Circuit Simulator.

Additional context for this material is provided by the ComPADRE-SERC Pedagogic Service.
Editor's Note: Registered PhET users also have access to a robust collection of lesson plans, student guides, and assessment pieces created by science teachers specifically for use with the "Build A Circuit-DC" simulation. These supplementary resources are classified by grade level and resource type. Registration is easy and cost-free.
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Electricity & Magnetism
- DC Circuits
= Circuit Analysis
= Currents
= Ohm's Law
- Middle School
- Lower Undergraduate
- High School
- Instructional Material
= Activity
= Curriculum support
= Interactive Simulation
- Audio/Visual
= Movie/Animation
Appropriate Courses Categories Ratings
- Physical Science
- Physics First
- Conceptual Physics
- Algebra-based Physics
- AP Physics
- Activity
- Laboratory
- New teachers
  • Currently 5.0/5

Rated 5.0 stars by 1 person

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Intended Users:
Access Rights:
Free access
This material is released under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license. PhET Interactive Simulations by The PhET Team, University of Colorado are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.

Rights Holder:
University of Colorado-Boulder
Merlot Record
Link to Material
Link to Material
DC Circuit, ammeter, current, electric circuits, electricity, experiment simulation, interactive multimedia, ohm's law, resistivity, resistor, voltmeter
Record Cloner:
Metadata instance created June 15, 2005 by Bruce Mason
Record Updated:
December 27, 2017 by Caroline Hall
Last Update
when Cataloged:
November 30, 2017
Other Collections:


Author: Tony Lai
Posted: June 6, 2008 at 3:49PM

I learned a lot

» reply


Author: Sam Wang
Posted: June 6, 2008 at 3:42PM

i learned a lot about circuits this way. thanks!

» reply

this is cool.

Author: Angela Sciencemaster
Posted: June 6, 2008 at 3:40PM

This is an extremely cool, hands-on feature that helped me to understand circuits. YAAYYY!!!!

» reply

Post a new comment on this item

Next Generation Science Standards

Energy (HS-PS3)

Students who demonstrate understanding can: (9-12)
  • Develop and use models to illustrate that energy at the macroscopic scale can be accounted for as either motions of particles or energy stored in fields. (HS-PS3-2)

Disciplinary Core Ideas (K-12)

Definitions of Energy (PS3.A)
  • …and "electrical energy" may mean energy stored in a battery or energy transmitted by electric currents. (9-12)

Crosscutting Concepts (K-12)

Systems and System Models (K-12)
  • Models can be used to represent systems and their interactions—such as inputs, processes and outputs— and energy, matter, and information flows within systems. (6-8)
  • When investigating or describing a system, the boundaries and initial conditions of the system need to be defined and their inputs and outputs analyzed and described using models. (9-12)
  • Models can be used to predict the behavior of a system, but these predictions have limited precision and reliability due to the assumptions and approximations inherent in models. (9-12)
Energy and Matter (2-12)
  • Within a natural or designed system, the transfer of energy drives the motion and/or cycling of matter. (6-8)
  • The total amount of energy and matter in closed systems is conserved. (9-12)
  • Changes of energy and matter in a system can be described in terms of energy and matter flows into, out of, and within that system. (9-12)
Structure and Function (K-12)
  • Structures can be designed to serve particular functions. (6-8)
  • Complex and microscopic structures and systems can be visualized, modeled, and used to describe how their function depends on the shapes, composition, and relationships among its parts, therefore complex natural structures/systems can be analyzed to determine how they function. (6-8)
  • Investigating or designing new systems or structures requires a detailed examination of the properties of different materials, the structures of different components, and connections of components to reveal its function and/or solve a problem. (9-12)

NGSS Science and Engineering Practices (K-12)

Analyzing and Interpreting Data (K-12)
  • Analyzing data in 6–8 builds on K–5 and progresses to extending quantitative analysis to investigations, distinguishing between correlation and causation, and basic statistical techniques of data and error analysis. (6-8)
    • Analyze and interpret data to provide evidence for phenomena. (6-8)
  • Analyzing data in 9–12 builds on K–8 and progresses to introducing more detailed statistical analysis, the comparison of data sets for consistency, and the use of models to generate and analyze data. (9-12)
    • Analyze data using tools, technologies, and/or models (e.g., computational, mathematical) in order to make valid and reliable scientific claims or determine an optimal design solution. (9-12)
Developing and Using Models (K-12)
  • Modeling in 6–8 builds on K–5 and progresses to developing, using and revising models to describe, test, and predict more abstract phenomena and design systems. (6-8)
    • Develop a model to describe unobservable mechanisms. (6-8)
  • 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)
    • Develop and use a model based on evidence to illustrate the relationships between systems or between components of a system. (9-12)

AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008 Version)

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
  • 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.
11B. Models
  • 6-8: 11B/M1. Models are often used to think about processes that happen too slowly, too quickly, or on too small a scale to observe directly. They are also used for processes that are too vast, too complex, or too dangerous to study.

This resource is part of 2 Physics Front Topical Units.

Topic: Electricity and Electrical Energy
Unit Title: A Model for Electricity

This high-quality simulation, now in HTML5, can be easily adapted for both middle school and high school. Students build a virtual DC circuit by clicking & dragging  wires, batteries, switches, and resistors. This particular resource has received excellent reviews in extensive field testing, especially when done in conjunction with a hands-on lab.

Link to Unit:

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

This high-quality simulation, recently rewritten to HTML5, is a good choice for introducing DC circuits. Students click and drag wires, batteries, switches, and resistors to explore factors that affect current, voltage, and resistance. The sim can be adapted for beginners or more advanced learners. This particular simulation has received excellent reviews in extensive field testing, especially when done in conjunction with a hands-on lab. See Lesson Plans above for recommended lessons developed by a high school teacher specifically for use with this simulation.

Link to Unit:
ComPADRE is beta testing Citation Styles!

Record Link
AIP Format
(PhET, Boulder, 2017), WWW Document, (https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/circuit-construction-kit-dc).
PhET Simulation: Circuit Construction Kit (DC Only), (PhET, Boulder, 2017), <https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/circuit-construction-kit-dc>.
APA Format
PhET Simulation: Circuit Construction Kit (DC Only). (2017, November 30). Retrieved August 17, 2018, from PhET: https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/circuit-construction-kit-dc
Chicago Format
PhET. PhET Simulation: Circuit Construction Kit (DC Only). Boulder: PhET, November 30, 2017. https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/circuit-construction-kit-dc (accessed 17 August 2018).
MLA Format
PhET Simulation: Circuit Construction Kit (DC Only). Boulder: PhET, 2017. 30 Nov. 2017. 17 Aug. 2018 <https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/circuit-construction-kit-dc>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Title = {PhET Simulation: Circuit Construction Kit (DC Only)}, Publisher = {PhET}, Volume = {2018}, Number = {17 August 2018}, Month = {November 30, 2017}, Year = {2017} }
Refer Export Format

%T PhET Simulation: Circuit Construction Kit (DC Only)
%D November 30, 2017
%C Boulder
%U https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/circuit-construction-kit-dc
%O text/html

EndNote Export Format

%0 Electronic Source
%D November 30, 2017
%T PhET Simulation: Circuit Construction Kit (DC Only)
%V 2018
%N 17 August 2018
%8 November 30, 2017
%9 text/html
%U https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/circuit-construction-kit-dc

Disclaimer: ComPADRE offers citation styles as a guide only. We cannot offer interpretations about citations as this is an automated procedure. Please refer to the style manuals in the Citation Source Information area for clarifications.

Citation Source Information

The AIP Style presented is based on information from the AIP Style Manual.

The APA Style presented is based on information from APA Style.org: Electronic References.

The Chicago Style presented is based on information from Examples of Chicago-Style Documentation.

The MLA Style presented is based on information from the MLA FAQ.

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PhET Simulation: Circuit Construction Kit (DC Only):

Is the Basis For DC circuits lab with real equipment and CCK

This lab looks at a few simple DC circuits that give an idea of how they work. We will learn how to use a DC power supply and a digital multimeter (DMM).

relation by Alea Smith
Expanded On PhET Simulation: Circuit Construction Kit (AC+DC)

A newer version of this circuit simulator allowing for simulating AC Circuits.

relation by Taha Mzoughi
Is the Basis For PhET Teacher Ideas and Activities: Properties of Electric Circuits Using Only Circuit Construction Kit (CCK)

A lesson plan for introductory high school physics classes, designed specifically to accompany the PhET DC Circuit Construction simulator.

relation by Caroline Hall
Is the Basis For PhET Teacher Ideas and Activities: Circuit Construction Kit - Series of Three Activities

A series of three lessons developed specifically for use with the PhET DC Circuit Construction Kit. Also includes detailed student guides for using the circuit simulator alone or in combination with a hands-on circuit lab.

relation by Caroline Hall

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