Reflection: Developing a Conceptual Understanding Kinetic and Potential Energy Lab Rotation - Section 6: Kinetic Energy Lab Rotation

There are stations in this lab rotation that are also included in my previous lessons and are used again in upcoming lessons.  I have found "recycling" lab stations to be an effective strategy to developing a deep understanding of phenomena.  Re-using lab stations, but in a different frame with different questions, encourages students to think about phenomena at different angles.  They begin to realize that scientific concepts apply to multiple scenarios in multiple ways.  When looking at any phenomena, there are multiple scientific avenues you could take to explain it.

For example, in this rotation, students use a conduct-o-meter over a Bunsen burner to note which of its spokes can melt the wax sitting on the end of the spokes more quickly.  In this lab station, the students are recognizing that the spokes are made of different types of matter (metals) and that they all heat up at different rates.  In a future lab rotation, the students complete this same lab but are asked to identify evidence of radiation, conduction, or convection.  By the end of this lesson, students begin to combine their understandings and start stating things such as "different types of matter conduct heat differently".  This combining of vocabulary, concepts and understanding develops a deeper connection to what is happening.

You might fear that students won't want to repeat lab stations.  And they will say, "We already did this lab."  This leads me to two keys of this practice.  Only recycle lab stations that are impactful and fun for students.  And, take the opportunity to explain to the students that you intentionally re-used the station.  That part of the nature of science is that science concepts are intertwined.  There are many science angles you can explain in every phenomena.

Recycling Lab Stations: It leads to deeper understanding!
Developing a Conceptual Understanding: Recycling Lab Stations: It leads to deeper understanding!

Kinetic and Potential Energy Lab Rotation

Unit 5: Energy
Lesson 5 of 11

Big Idea: Students explore kinetic energy in a lab rotation by creating spool racers, creating 'craters' with marbles and flour, and measuring how different types of matter heat up at different rates!

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110 minutes

Leigh Roehm

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