What Is Energy Part 1

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SWBAT define energy and think of several examples of energy use in their world

Big Idea

Energy is something that is in all things that we do. Students who can understand what energy is, can then think about how it is used.

Teacher Background

This lesson on energy does not directly address a single second grade standard, but it addresses the overall concept for 2 LS 2 which is ecosystems: Interactions Energy and Dynamics. Students have heard the term energy in a lesson on the food web, and in a lesson on engineering design with a roller coaster, but I never stopped to make sure that they really understood the term energy. 

This lesson is designed to help students gain a basic understanding of what energy is and how it is produced and used. 

Students will be conducting several experiments to test how different things react with different amounts of energy. This will support their understanding of engineering design as they compare the results of several experiments. 

The experiments will be done over several days, so Part 1 of the lesson is an introduction and two of the experiments, and Part 2 is the other two experiments and the conclusion. 

Introduction and I Can Statement

10 minutes

I ask students to read the I Can Statement on the board. It says, "I can conduct experiments to better understand what energy is."

I say, "what do you think energy is?" I let students share their thoughts about energy. They make comments such as energy is what you get when you eat food, energy makes things go, etc. I say, "yes, you all are correct in the things you have mentioned. Energy is several different things.  The dictionary tells us that energy is the ability to be active. It is also defined as usable power. (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/energy)

"Today and tomorrow we will spend some time looking at energy in different forms. You will have a chance to record your observations and to compare the different forms of energy we use."

The Experiments

30 minutes

"Today you will visit 3 centers to explore energy. At each center you will follow the posted directions for the experiment and record in your journal what you observe. Remember to use all of your senses to observe with. Today we will be exploring heat energy, sound energy and something called potential energy. I am going to use the word potential in a sentence. The ball at the top of the ramp has the potential to roll down, but the ball at the bottom does not.  Can anyone figure out what potential means?" I let students try to figure out the word.  "Potential means that something is possible. When we are talking about potential energy we mean that something has the possibility of having the power to move. You will look at that in one of the centers today."

I go over the directions at each center before having students begin. I also show them where the material are at that center, as well as the directions. experiment recording sheet

Center 1: SOUND ENERGY  Materials: 2 small bowls covered tightly with plastic wrap, a paper plate for the used salt, salt, a metal gong. Directions: 1. have each person put 2 pinches of salt on the plastic wrap. 2. Take turns (1 turn each) to hit the gong while holding it about 6 inches above the bowl. 3. Observe what happens to the salt. 4. Record your observations in your journal 5. Dump all salt back onto the paper plate. Salt Experiment

Center 2: HEAT ENERGY: Materials: bowl of hot water, metal spoon, plastic spoon, wooden spoon. DIRECTIONS: 1. Touch all 3 spoon handles and see if they are the same temperature. 2. Put all 3 spoons in the hot water. 3. Count to 100. 4. Touch all of the spoon handles and see if they feel any different. 5. Remove all spoons from the water. 6. Record your observations in your journals. Spoons

Center 3: POTENTIAL ENERGY: Materials: rubber band, target. Directions: 1. Pick 1 rubber band. 2. Notice how it feels in your hand. 3. Stretch it and let it go back to its normal size without letting go 25 times. 4. Is there any difference in temperature? 5. Stretch the rubber band and then let go and aim for the target on the wall one time. 6. Return the band to the box. 7. Record your observations.

I divide the class into 3 groups by counting off by 3s. I send each group to one of the centers where I have posted the directions. 

I let the students work at a center for about 10 minutes, but I ring the bell at 7 minutes to remind them to stop and record their observations in their journals before moving to the next center.


5 minutes

Because this is only part 1 of this lesson, closure today is just to let students share their thoughts about the experiments they just did. I ask, "does anyone want to share something they noticed today about energy?" 

After sharing I say, "tomorrow we will conduct several more experiments on energy and then talk more about what energy is."