Completing the Circuit

Circuits:  A Bright Idea!

Today in class, we talked about electrical circuits and examined the effect of including two lamps in one circuit.
We found that when a circuit includes two lamps in series (one right after the other), both lamps need to be connected or neither light will turn on! This is because electricity is the flow of electrons, and if a light is not connected, the circuit is not complete and the electrons cannot flow. We also noticed that the lamps in series were dimmer than a single lamp alone; this is because the electrons have twice as many lights to turn on!

When lamps are connected in parallel, however, so that the electricity flows to both lamps at the same time, they are just as bright as one lamp by itself because both lamps are seeing the same amount of electricity. If a lamp in a parallel circuit is disconnected, the other lamp doesn’t change; in fact, a parallel circuit with one lamp disconnected is the same as a simple circuit with one light!

 

 

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Author

Dr. Maureen Griffin

Maureen earned a Ph.D. in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania in 2003. While at Penn, she developed a novel micro-mechanical technique called micropipette peeling to investigate the role of muscle cell adhesion in normal and diseased skeletal muscle cells. After graduating, Maureen worked full time as a post-doctoral researcher and then a staff scientist a SelectX Pharmaceuticals. She joined the teaching staff in 2008 and was excited to be made an executive staff member in 2009. Maureen also continued to consult part time for SelectX until her daughter's birth in 2009; now she is focused on Science from Scientists and, of course, her children. Maureen uses her spare time to read, blog, cook, and renovate her house.

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