Forms of Energy

Apr. 15, 2011 | 0 Comments | Science | 9-12 | Energy

Lesson Steps

Warm-up: Forms of Energy
     1. Write “What is Energy?” on the board. Have students raise their hands and give personal definitions to the word “energy.” Accept all answers and write key words mentioned on the board. Examples of words you might want to highlight on the board are: change, moving or movement, electricity, work, heat, sound, and light.

     2. Give the students a documented definition of energy such as “the ability to make change” or “the capacity to do work.” Discuss how this definition compares to the ideas presented by the class.

Activity One: Forms of Energy Field Trip
     1. Hand out Reproducible #1- Forms of Energy and/or project an overhead image. As a class, go over the definition and examples. Try to come up with examples not already provided.

     2. Hand out Reproducible #2- Your Forms of Energy. Take a 20 minute “mini-field trip” - tour your school, library, computer lab or walk outside your building. Spend these 20 minutes making silent observations of energy. Students should list examples of energy on their handout and categorize them as Potential or Kinetic energy. Encourage them to give detailed descriptions of what they are observing and how it relates to energy.

     3. Hand out Reproducible #3- Your Forms of Energy- Questions and ask students to use their observations from the mini-field trip to answer the given questions.

     4. Homework suggestion: Write examples of potential and kinetic energy from your walk home, ride home, house or apartment.

Warm-up: Journal Topic- Law of Conservation of Energy
Write the Law of Conservation of Energy on the board (the fundamental principle of physics that the total energy of an isolated system is constant despite internal changes; energy cannot be created or destroyed but can only change form). This means the total amount of energy that is found in the universe always stays the same. In student journals, have them hypothesize if this were not true. What would this mean for us and the planet? What if they found a way to create energy? Students should write a paragraph explaining what they would do with this new-found knowledge.

Activity Two:
     1. Hand out Reproducible #4- Law of Conservation of Energy. You can also create an overhead of this Reproducible. Explain how energy is never destroyed or created. It always changes from one form to another. Use this as an opportunity to reinforce the types of energy learned in Activity One.

     2. Go over the examples provided in the handout and think of others. This can be done as a class, individually, or in small groups. Answer question on handout - What is the one source that all energy can be traced back to? (The Sun) Explain and discuss why this is true. Challenge students to think of examples that would prove this to be wrong. (It always does go back to the Sun!!)

     3. Take another mini-field trip around the school building (outside or inside), computer lab, library or cafeteria. Have students find and explain examples of energy transformations that they observe.

     4. Homework suggestion: Have students complete Reproducible #5- Energy Efficiency.

Warm-up: One Minute Brainstorm
Time students in a one minute drill. They should list all the ways they use electricity, and at the end of one minute, put pencils down. As a class, share answers and have students cross off the ones they have in common. Give prizes to students with the greatest number of original answers (ie: ones that haven’t been crossed off). Prizes could be a CFL light bulb, low-flow faucet, batteries, recycled notepad, extra credit, etc….

Activity Three: How is Electricity Made?
     1. Discuss the following questions as a class:
               a. What is electricity? (the flow or movement of electrons).
               b. Examples of this flow of electrons are Lightning - electrons going from one cloud to another and Static - electrons going from one object to another.
               c. How do you get electricity to flow? (you need to apply a force to get electrons to be pushed from their orbits. This force has to get electrons to jump from atom to atom).

     2. Hand out Reproducible #6- Magnets and Electricity and Reproducible #7- How Electricity is Generated. You can go over these as a class, divide the class into small groups or have students read the handouts individually.

     3. Hand out Reproducible #8- Magnets and the Generation of Electricity-Questions Students should be able to answer the questions using the information provided in the passages. Answers may vary but should be similar to:
               1. Magnetic field
               2. Electrons
               3. Device converting mechanical energy into electric energy
               4. A small electric current is induced.
               5. Steam turbines, internal combustion engines, gas combustion engines, water turbines, and wind turbines.
               6. 350 units
               7. Fossil fuels
               8. 49%

     4. Homework suggestion- Students should create an illustration of a turbine generator labeled
with the magnets, turbine, wire coil, North Pole, South Pole and direction of electric

Warm-up: U.S Energy Consumption
     1. Create an overhead of Reproducible #9- U.S Energy Consumption by Source, 2007.

     2. Give students the definition of Fossil Fuels - An energy source that comes from remains of decayed animals, plants and organisms. Ex: Coal, Oil, and Natural Gas.

     3. What percent of U.S energy comes from fossil fuels? 83.3% (Petroleum 37.5% + Natural Gas 23.3% + Coal 22.5%)

Activity Four: How Fossil Fuels Were Formed
     1. Hand out Reproducible #10- How Fossil Fuels Were Formed. Have students read handout individually, in small groups or as a class.

     2. After reading, students should choose one of the following activities to begin in class and finish at home.
               a. Create a poster that illustrates the process of coal formation.
               b. Create a 10 question quiz with answer key, using the information found in the handout.
               c. Write a short story describing life without fossil fuels.
               d. Conserving electricity is an immediate and direct way to reduce the use of fossil fuels and pollution associated with it. Create a poster that encourages conservation of electricity.
               e. Research and write a list of pros and cons for use of fossil fuels for energy.

Warm-up: U.S Energy Consumption- Part Two
Refer back to the overhead image of Reproducible #9- U.S. Energy Consumption by Source, 2007. Give students the definition of Renewable Energy- relating to a natural resource, such as solar energy, water, or wood, that is never used up or that can be replaced or re-grown. What percent of energy consumption came from a renewable source in 2007? 6.7% (Biomass, 3.6% + Hydropower, 2.4% + Geothermal, 0.3% + Wind, 0.3% + Solar, 0.1%)

Activity Five: Renewable Research
     1. Divide class into 5 groups. Each group is assigned a renewable energy resource. Examples might include: Biomass, Hydropower, Geothermal, Wind and Solar. Using the internet, books and various resources available, begin research on their renewable energy source. Use the questions on Reproducible #11- Renewable Energy Source as a guide and assessment tool.

     2. Final assessment on their renewable energy source can include a poster promoting their source. The poster should include a slogan, facts, figures and images.

Wrap Up: As a class discuss what was learned. What did you find out that was new to you? Students can present their information gathered from the renewable energy source research. This will reinforce the information and teach the class about all of the renewable energy sources available to them. Students can also hang their posters (turbine engines, conservation of electricity and renewable energy source) around the school building for all to see.

     1. Have students research the following technologies, write a report and/or present to the class:
               Clean Coal
               Underwater Generators
               Solar Cells
               Methane Hydrate
               Carbon Sequestration

     2. Conduct an energy audit to investigate the energy costs for your school building (electricity, heat, cooling, etc.) and the fuels your school uses for electricity. Also, determine the efficiency of your building. Information for do-it-yourself audits may be found at these and other websites:
               a. US Department of Energy - Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy:
               b. US DOE and EPA’s EnergySTAR –

     3. After making observations and gathering data on your school’s energy use, brainstorm ways to save energy and costs at school. Are there lights left on after school? Do computers stay on all day? Are there areas with leaks or no insulation? Raise awareness about these issues and present solutions to other students, teachers and administration.