7. Resistance and Resistivity - Part 1: Conductors vs. Insulators

Melissa Beemsterboer
30 minutes
High School Honors Physics


In this lesson, students will start to familiarize themselves further with the concepts of current and resistance by investigating different materials that are good conductors (measured current is high) and poor conductors (measured current is low). While this lesson has "investigating resistivity" in its title, the actual investigation will be much more qualitative in nature. Later on students can investigate resistance in more depth, and come away with an understanding of the different variables that affect resistance. If helpful, you can recall experiences they might have had, such as their parents warning them not to stick metal, like a paperclip, in an electrical socket. They have also seen a short circuit during the simulation activity. (Note: As often as possible, tying together the real life and simulated experiences can only help them make connections between computational thinking and what they're learning in science class.)

Another main goal of this lesson is to teach students how to use a multimeter. Students may be able to sort the materials into good and poor conductors very quickly, but using a multimeter successfully takes some thought and practice. Students should be given explicit directions on how to use the multimeter correctly, and warned that if they handle it improperly, they could break it.

Underlying Pages


Next Generation Science Standards
  • Engineering, Technology, Applications of Science
  • Physical Science
  • NGSS Crosscutting Concept
    • Systems
    • Energy
  • NGSS Practice
    • Analyzing Data
    • Constructing Explanations, Designing Solutions
    • Using Models
    • Using Mathematics
    • Conducting Investigations
Computational Thinking in STEM
  • Data Practices
    • Analyzing Data
    • Collecting Data
    • Visualizing Data
  • Modeling and Simulation Practices
    • Assessing Computational Models
    • Constructing Computational Models
  • Computational Problem Solving Practices
    • Computer Programming
    • Troubleshooting and Debugging