Students learn about energy, kinetic energy, potential energy, and energy transfer through a series of three lessons and three activities. They learn that energy can be neither created nor destroyed and that relationships exist between a moving object's mass and velocity. The associated activities give students hands-on experience with examples of potential-to-kinetic energy transfers. The activities also provide ways for students to apply the core concepts of energy through engineering practices such as building and testing prototypes to meet design criteria, planning and carrying out investigations, collecting and interpreting data, optimizing a system design, and collaborating with other research groups. The fundamental concepts presented in this unit serve as a good foundation for future lessons on energy technologies and electricity production.
Students are introduced to the concept of energy conversion, and how energy transfers from one form, place or object to another. They learn that energy transfers can take the form of force, electricity, light, heat and sound and are never without some energy "loss" during the process. Two real-world examples of engineered systems light bulbs and cars are examined in light of the law of conservation of energy to gain an understanding of their energy conversions and inefficiencies/losses. Students' eyes are opened to the examples of energy transfer going on around them every day. Includes two simple teacher demos using a tennis ball and ball bearings. A PowerPoint(TM) presentation and quizzes are provided.
Students learn about kinetic and potential energy, including various types of potential energy: chemical, gravitational, elastic and thermal energy. They identify everyday examples of these energy types, as well as the mechanism of corresponding energy transfers. They learn that energy can be neither created nor destroyed and that relationships exist between a moving object's mass and velocity. Further, the concept that energy can be neither created nor destroyed is reinforced, as students see the pervasiveness of energy transfer among its many different forms. A PowerPoint(TM) presentation and post-quiz are provided.
Students are introduced to the definition of energy and the concepts of kinetic energy, potential energy, and energy transfer. This lesson is a broad overview of concepts that are taught in more detail in subsequent lessons and activities in this curricular unit. A PowerPoint(TM) presentation and pre/post quizzes are provided.
As a weighted plastic egg is dropped into a tub of flour, students see the effect that different heights and masses of the same object have on the overall energy of that object while observing a classic example of potential (stored) energy transferred to kinetic energy (motion). The plastic egg's mass is altered by adding pennies inside it. Because the egg's shape remains constant, and only the mass and height are varied, students can directly visualize how these factors influence the amounts of energy that the eggs carry for each experiment, verified by measurement of the resulting impact craters. Students learn the equations for kinetic and potential energy and then make predictions about the depths of the resulting craters for drops of different masses and heights. They collect and graph their data, comparing it to their predictions, and verifying the relationships described by the equations. This classroom demonstration is also suitable as a small group activity.
Students play the role of engineers as they test, design and build Mentos(TM) fountains a dramatic example of how potential energy (stored energy) can be converted to kinetic energy (motion). They are challenged to work together as a class to optimize the design of the basic soda/candy geyser made by the teacher. To do this, three research teams each investigate how a different variable nozzle shape, soda temperature, number of candies affects fountain height. They devise and run experimental tests to determine the best variable values. Then they combine their results to design the highest fountain to compete head-to-head with the teacher's geyser design.
Students see how potential energy (stored energy) can be converted into kinetic energy (motion). Acting as if they were engineers designing vehicles, they use rubber bands, pencils and spools to explore how elastic potential energy from twisted rubber bands can roll the spools. They brainstorm, prototype, modify, test and redesign variations to the basic spool racer design in order to meet different design criteria, ultimately facing off in a race competition. These simple-to-make devices store potential energy in twisted rubber bands and then convert the potential energy to kinetic energy upon release.