Conversion of energy into different forms (lesson two of eight)
Grade level(s):Elementary School (K-5), Grade 3, Grade 4
Energy may be converted from one form to another.
conversion, sound, light, mechanical, chemical, heat, electrical, magnetic, atomic, energy
What you need:
Flash paper (or any paper that can burn), rubberband, mechanical crank, radiometer kit (SEP Call number = E218).
pairs in a circle
Students investigate flash paper, rubber bands, a mechanical crank, and a radiometer to determine the energy conversion occurring in each.
Students should be aware of the different forms of energy.
1) Learn that energy can be converted from one form to another. 2) Learn that one type of energy can give rise to multiple different energies. 3) Think creatively about designing experiments.
Lesson Implementation / Outline
5’ Instructor continues the story: From your observations about different types of energy, a few very bright 3rd graders notice that objects can have multiple different types of energy. For instance, a light bulb uses electrical energy and gives off heat and light energy. These smart students decide to further investigate how energy can be converted from one form to another. Students break up into two groups and work with their science partners from last time.
10’ FLASH PAPER: Instructor demonstrates what happens when you burn a piece of flash paper and discuss energy conversion in general. Here, chemical energy is converted to light and heat energy. 10’ RUBBER BAND: Instructor hands a rubberband to everyone. S/he asks students to try stretching or contracting the rubber band when it is near their lips or forehead. Class discusses how mechanical energy can be converted into heat energy. They also ask what would happen to the rubber band if you warmed or cooled it. Here, heat energy is changed into mechanical energy. 10’ MECHANICAL CRANK: Show them a crank that converts mechanical energy into electrical energy. Hook up an LED or motor to demonstrate that these items can be powered by the electrical energy generated from the crank. The crank is passed around and the students try it. 30’ RADIOMETER: Investigation of radiometer in pairs. Students first follow the worksheet to see the effect of light and heat on the radiometer. The light energy is converted into heat energy which drives mechanical work. Students follow a worksheet and then they can design their own experiments with the materials available. Instructors float from group to group answering questions and suggesting things for experiments. For example, does sound have an effect on the radiometer? What about cooling it down with ice? It’s important that the students are allowed to come up with their experiments.
Ask the students questions and discuss the experiment after each one.
5’ Instructor explains what happened with the radiometer and perhaps demonstrate a few of the key experiments. Review the concept of energy conversion. Highlight that one type of energy can give rise to multiple types. Emphasize that science is about designing your own experiments and answering the questions that you think to come up with.
Extensions and Reflections
This lesson really complemented the first energy lesson nicely. Students were already familiar with the different forms of energy, so it was easier for them to grasp the conception that energy could be converted from one form to another. However, the radiometer worksheet may have been a little much for them to complete. Additionally, the radiometers were difficult to get to work with flashlights indoors. You really need a bright spotlight (we used several flashlights).
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