Learning Resource Type

Classroom Resource

Circuit Construction Kit: AC - Virtual Lab

Subject Area



9, 10, 11, 12


In this PhET activity, students will construct series and parallel circuits using available materials. Students will explore how resistors, batteries, and various types of insulators and conductors affect circuits. Students will explore Ohm’s law by  determining how resistance affects circuits by utilizing voltmeters, ammeters, and charts to measure voltage and current. Students will prove Kirchhoff’s laws by demonstrating that current is equal on each side of a node and that the sum of voltage differences is 0. This activity can be used to introduce a unit on circuits or to reinforce students’ knowledge of circuits.

    Science (2015) Grade(s): 09-12 - Physical Science


    Construct simple series and parallel circuits containing resistors and batteries and apply Ohm’s law to solve typical problems demonstrating the effect of changing values of resistors and voltages.

    Unpacked Content



    • Circuit
    • Resistor
    • Wire
    • Battery
    • Bulbs
    • Capacitor
    • Conductor
    • Insulator
    • Charge
    • Amps
    • Volts
    • Ohms
    • Multimeter


    Students know:
    • A series circuit is a closed circuit in which resistors are arranged in a chain and the current follows only one path.
    • A parallel circuit is a closed in which the current divides into two or more paths before recombining to complete the circuit.
    • A multimeter is a device consisting of one or more meters, as an ammeter and voltmeter, used to measure two or more electrical quantities in an electric circuit, as voltage, resistance, and current.
    • Energy can be transferred from place to place by electric currents.


    Students are able to:
    • Construct a series circuit with resistors (bulbs) and batteries.
    • Construct a parallel circuit with resistors (bulbs) and batteries.
    • Use a multimeter to take data of amps, ohms and volts for the circuits.
    • Use Ohm's law to verify your circuit current, resistance, and voltage amounts.


    Students understand that:
    • Energy released by electricity can move from place to place.
    • Ohm's law formulas may be used to calculate electrical values to design circuits.and use electricity in a useful way.

    Scientific and Engineering Practices

    Developing and Using Models

    Crosscutting Concepts

    Cause and Effect
    Science (2015) Grade(s): 09-12 - Physics


    Use the principles of Ohm’s and Kirchhoff’s laws to design, construct, and analyze combination circuits using typical components (e.g., resistors, capacitors, diodes, sources of power).

    Unpacked Content



    • ammeter
    • voltmeter
    • series
    • parallel
    • model
    • Kirchhoff's laws
    • Ohm's law
    • resistance
    • current
    • electric potential
    • multimeter
    • positive
    • negative
    • electrical components
    • circuit
    • voltage source
    • conductors
    • resistor color code
    • circuit diagram
    • heat
    • charge
    • static electricity


    Students know:
    • The color code for the resistance of resistors.
    • The basic principles of static electricity.
    • How to construct electrical circuits.
    • Several different components can be used to build an electrical circuit.


    Students are able to:
    • Design and use models.
    • Develop an appropriate experimental procedure.
    • Create a data sheet.
    • Collect and organize experimental data.
    • Follow written and verbal instructions.
    • Make measurements using standard units.
    • Effectively manipulate laboratory equipment.
    • Work safely in collaborative lab groups.
    • Manipulate equations.
    • Interpret graphical data.
    • Solve mathematical equations.
    • Use a multimeter.


    Students understand that:
    • Circuits are complete pathways through which current will flow predictably and will provide energy to the connected component(s).
    • Circuits may be simple or complex.

    Scientific and Engineering Practices

    Analyzing and Interpreting Data

    Crosscutting Concepts

    Cause and Effect
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