Exploring Electric Circuits Using a Water Analogy

A CIPT Lab Exercise in Modern Physics


Properties of electric circuits such as current, potential, resistance and the relationships between them are often taught using a water analogy.  Water circuits provide an excellent comparison to simple electric circuits, but few students have experience with fluid dynamics.  This lab allows a hands-on investigation of water flow: including current, pressure and resistance, in series and parallel arrangements, which can be related to electric current, potential and electric resistance.

Appropriate Levels

Physics: Grades 11 & 12

Time Required

Two 80-minute class periods.


The Water Circuit Kit is available from West Hill Biological Resources as Catalog # CNS-201 for $145.95.

Additional flowmeters can be purchased as Catalog # CNS-202 for $29.95 each.

CNS-201 - Exploring Electric Circuits
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CNS-202 Water Circuit Flow Meter
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Copyright for this material is held by Cornell University, the Cornell Institute for Biology Teachers (CIBT), the Center for Nanoscale Systems Institute for Physics Teachers (CIPT), and or West Hill Biological Resources, Inc., 2014. This work may be copied by the original recipient from this web site to provide copies for users working under the direct supervision of the original recipient. All other redistribution of this content without the express written permission of the copyright holder(s) is prohibited.

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Hallie Snowman

Gil Toombes

Walt Peck