In this project, we’ll explore the differences between series and parallel circuits.  We’ll start with some vocabulary. 

series circuit is a circuit in which resistors are arranged in a chain, so the current has only one path to take. The current is the same through each resistor, but the voltage is not. 

A parallel circuit is one in which the resistors are arranged in parallel, so that the current can flow along several paths.  In this case, the current varies, but the voltage across each resistor is the same. 

In this project, we’ll build each type of circuit and calculate the voltage and current within the circuit to see these differences.  

parallel vs series circuit

A parallel circuit

series vs parallel image 2

A series circuit

What You’ll Learn

When you are finished with this project, you’ll be able to:

  • Recognize and build a series circuit
  • Recognize and build a parallel circuit
  • Understand how voltage and current behave in each circuit

What You’ll Need

To complete this project, you’ll need the following components

Build your parallel circuit

Code your circuit

Build your series circuit

Draw some conclusions!

Now that you’ve built both circuits and run the code, compare the values that you see in the serial monitor. 

You should see that the voltage values in the parallel circuit are all the same, or very close to each other, regardless of the value of the resistor, but the current values vary with the resistor levels.  

In the series circuit, you should see the current values as the same, with the voltage levels changing. 

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