Energy, Work, and Power!

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Students will learn about different forms of energy and how it is used in the world.

Big Idea

Students will understand the different forms energy takes. They will understand that energy movement is work, and that different levels of energy and work is power.

RAP - Review and Preview

20 minutes

I call students to the gathering area. I tell them that we need to learn one more important piece of information that we will use in building our roller coasters.

I ask them to close their eyes and I am going to give them a word. When I give say the word, they may quietly raise their hand to tell me what they “see” in their heads, or think about when I say this word. 

NOTE: I remind students that there is no side conversation that happens during a brainstorm such as this. All answers are plausible and useful. Anyone disparaging another’s answers will not be able to brainstorm with us. This helps prevent the negativity that can arise when students may offer a thought that really does not relate to energy. However, these brainstorms help me as a teacher to see any misconceptions students may have about the concept.

While students have their eyes closed, I put up a previously prepared concept-map with the word energy on it. I ask students what they think about when I say the word, “Energy.” To keep the thinking going, I ask some leading questions such as:

- Where/how do we use energy in our lives?

- Can you name a few things that use energy?

- What happens when we don’t have access to energy?

Try to lead the discussion to the concepts of energy in useful forms such as heat, power, or energy to do work for human use.

Many students seem to know that energy cannot be made or destroyed. However, they do not have a practical understanding of this concept. I tell students that this is a concept that we will explore through the construction of our roller coasters. 

Vocabulary Review

30 minutes

Although I like students to explore their vocabulary understanding, today I am going to demonstrate some terms that I will previously define. I do this front-loading of definitions here as these terms are also words we use in everyday life for different reasons. I don’t want students to confuse this everyday vernacular with the scientific concepts being taught here. I hand out a cloze definition sheet where students can write in the important terms as we learn the definitions. This way they have the concepts in front of them for the rest of the lesson. I make my close worksheets at This allows for quick creation of worksheets, using my own information. 

We work through the close worksheet together. I have students fill them in and then make a quick foldable for the demonstrations to come. Students take a square of paper about 10 inches big. They fold it into four quadrants. They fold the square into fourths and write the terms that we just covered on each square. Students cut through one fold to the center to allow them to fold the square with only one answer showing. See my video on how to make this foldable.

When we do a demonstration, students will decide which term is being demonstrated and fold their foldable to that word. They will, silently, hold that term above their head until everyone has made a decision. I can see answers and then we discuss the concept being demonstrated. This is a great way to assess who is understanding the concepts and who needs some support 



1. Teacher lights a match. (light and heat)

2. Teacher plays a tone on an iPhone, or small drum. (sound)

3. Teacher turns on flashlight (light and electrical)

4. Ask for two volunteers.

Have one students push against the wall. Have one student push against a chair until it moves about three feet.

Discuss as a class: Did either of these students expend energy? Both did. Energy contributes to doing work, but not all of it is useful. The students pushing the wall was expending energy, but did not do work.


1. Ask for two volunteers.

Repeat: Have one students push against the wall. Have one student push against a chair until it moves about three feet.

Discuss as a class: Did either one or both of these students do any work? (only the one who pushed the chair. Movement must occur to do work).

2. Throw a ball to a student.


1. Toss a ball lightly to a student.

2. Throw a ball harder to a student.

These can be done between students, but you have to be careful that the students do not become too rough with each other.

After each demonstration, be sure to have students choose their answers and hold them over their heads, using their foldable. I randomize these demonstrations so they are not grouped together, but I grouped them together for ease of reading.

Wrap Up

10 minutes

I call students to the gathering area. We define the terms we just learned about, together. I ask students how they think these concepts relate to the roller coasters they are about to design and build. Students come up with some great ideas, so be sure to note them on a poster as they often forget them during the design process.

I remind students that we will start our design process in the next lesson.