Yes you can do this, I have done it myself many times. As for your hands on... you are moving along the right path by coming to AO and posting your questions. Most of us have no problems at all with a person with a genuine desire to learn. Your professor was obviously very inadequate or he would have made you more comfortable with your Lab projects. You are going to do well. Next time you decide to take on a project of this calibur, post your project or idea here and get some more opinions from the experts.
Would you recomend I just cut this wire, and extend it by soldering aditioanl wire on. Or might there be a simpler solution?