This page contains lab writeups, lab demos, and in-class active learning activities for a Circuits I class taught at Smith College. If you use any of these activities in your class, please email me and let me know!

Lab Writeups


Lab Demos

Too Much Power Through a Resistor

I do this demo on the first lab class, just after we reviewed Ohm’s Law and the passive sign convention. In this demo you will need a cord that’s got an un-grounded wall plug at one end and alligator clips at the other. I have heard this cord called a cheater cord or a widowmaker. It also works well as an outreach activity for middle and high school students if you scale down the questions or lead them through the calculations.

Resistor Power Writeup

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Popping an Electrolytic Capacitor

I typically do this at the start of first order time domain analysis. I show them a couple of large and small electrolytic capacitors, both vented and un-vented. Usually a student notices the negative sign on the side, or the short lead/long lead, so we talk about the polarity of the capacitor and why these have polarity but other caps don’t.

Capacitor Popping Writeup

In Class Activities