Energy in Real-Life Situations

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Students will be able to complete accurate calculations using work, power, and energy equations.

Big Idea

Students find their energy, work and power exerted when walking the hallway and climbing the stairs.

Energy Problem Set Jigsaw

30 minutes

The goal of this lesson is for students to be able to understand what energy is and how to calculate energy, work and power. Through the personal power activity students use their own experience of walking down the hallway and up a flight of stairs to calculate the work, power, speed and energy exerted. Students use computational thinking (SP5) in the personal power activity and explain their thinking to other students when going over the energy problems (SP8). This lesson brings energy to their real-life so they can see how physics applies to their daily life (HS-PS3-2).

To start out class, I have students take out their Energy Problems WS so we can complete a jigsaw of the work they did in class and for homework. The jigsaw is a cooperative learning technique used to have students share their ideas. In this case I choose to use the jigsaw so that students become an expert on a set of problems and explain them to their peers. By using the jigsaw approach with this worksheet, I see students speaking in ways that they feel confident about the problem they completed by giving a thorough and complete answer and by answering any questions their group members may ask. I have found that when students are forced to explain their thinking that is where they can the most understanding of the process and any areas they may be struggling with.

To set up this jigsaw, I have students look at the numbers on their tables, where each seat has a number #1-4. Each students is be responsible for the problem that corresponds to a set of problems (1:#1-3, 2:#5-8, 3:#9-12, 4:#13-16). Then I tell them they need to find the people that have the same problem numbers as them; they then need to come to agreement on the answer to those problems. Then they come back to their group and explain their problems and make sure that everyone in their group understands those problems before the next person goes over their problems.

When we do this activity, I give students about 10 minutes with their problem groups and then 20 minutes with their home groups (5 minutes to explain set of problems). To get students into their problem groups, I first tell them that each corner of the room corresponds to their table numbers (#1-4). I point to each corner and then I tell them to form their groups in each of the corners. When they are in their groups, they edit the problem on their current problem set. Their task as a group is to come to a consensus on how to do the problems and the correct answers. Students edit the answers they have on their homework pages. They also need to teach anyone in their group who did not finish the homework problem how to do those problems so that every person in the group is able to explain the process to the correct answer to their home group. You can see an example of what happened in one student group in the Student Jigsaw Video. After 10 minutes, I have students say thank you to each member of their problem group and return to their original table with their home group. At the table with their home group each student gets up to 5 minutes to explain to their group how they got the answers until each member has explained their problems.

Energy Checkpoint

10 minutes

After students have conferred about the answers to the energy problem set, I have them individually complete the Energy E.O.D Checkpoint. I provide them with the equations on the board to help them but expect them to be able to show all work and complete the problems on their own. I do this as a check to see if my students have been able to understand what energy is and how to use the equations. As you can see from the Energy Checkpoint Student Work, my students made minor errors in what numbers they should include in the equation. Some students struggled with whether or not they should convert them as well as not having the definition of energy as the ability to do work. 

Personal Power Activity

30 minutes

Once every student has turned in their checkpoint, I have them pick up the Personal Power Activity. In this activity students collect the time it takes for them to walk down the hallway outside the classroom and the time it takes for them to climb one flight of stairs. They can then use their data along with their mass and the distance of the hallway to find their kinetic energy, work, power and potential energy.

To complete this activity, I have students go out into the hallway in groups to collect data. They receive a stopwatch to collect the different times. the distances are already measured for them. For their mass, I tell them that they can start with their weight in pounds or to put a realistic number of their choice if they are self-conscious about putting their actual weight. Students then use conversions between pounds and kilograms and newtons to convert their weight to mass and then to a force in newtons. When some groups are in the hallway, I have other students write down what equation to use to solve each part of the sheet until they are ready to go out in the hall to collect data. When students have finished collecting data I give them the rest of the period to solve the problems with their data. Below is a student's work for this personal power activity.

Conservation of Energy Video Notes (Homework)

For homework I ask my students to take notes and watch the video about Conservation of Energy, as shown below.

Students take notes on the video as they watch it through a program called eduCanon. With eduCanon, students must watch the entire video. In addition, there are small checkpoints along the way that ask them questions about their understanding the video. I like to use eduCanon because it keeps students engaged during the video instead of just mindlessly copying what is on the screen onto their notes in the Conservation of Energy Guided Notes. Also, it gives me feedback on what students are understanding.