As a grade level we purchased the Scholastic True Book on Energy. To begin this lesson we are going to read a section on gravitational energy. The two paragraphs describe gravitational energy and use examples that students can understand based on playing. Before we read, I hand out two sticky notes to each student. Students are going to practice writing notes as they read. I will model with the first paragraph how to use the sticky to write the most important details on. Students will then practice with the second paragraph the note taking skill.
To see gravity at work we are going to head to the playground. Students are going to use the slide and swings to see, feel, and use gravitational energy. I have half my students line up to use the slide and the other half stay down at the bottom with me. The group that is with me will discuss as the others use the slide what we now know about gravitational energy. The groups will switch and the same discussion will occur with the second group. We will then move to the swings and discuss gravitational energy when swinging. If there is time I will let students swing, but if not a couple student models will work well to have discuss what we are seeing and how gravity helps us play.
When we return to class I separate students into groups of three. Students are only allowed to use the materials in their desks to create a model that uses and demonstrated gravitational energy. Before they begin I ask if there are questions in what gravitational energy is. The class is confident and I ask them to work together to create a model. Once the groups agrees on a model, and tests it they can call me over to check it. Once every group has successfully made a model, each group will share there's with the class.