Test on Energy

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Students demonstrate their knowledge of the conservation of energy with this summative assessment.

Big Idea

Energy-mass is not created or destroyed, but changes from one form to another.

Energy Test Procedure

5 minutes

For today's quiz, students apply CCSS Math Practice 1: Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them, NGSS Science Practice 5: Using mathematics and computational thinking all in the context of NGSS Performance Standard HS-PS3-1: Create a computational model to calculate the change in the energy of one component in a system when the change in energy of the other component(s) and energy flows in and out of the system are known and HS-PS3-2: Develop and use models to illustrate that energy at the macroscopic scale can be accounted for as a combination of energy associated with the motions of particles (objects) and energy associated with the relative positions of particles (objects).

For the first 5-10 minutes of class, I give students an opportunity to ask any questions that they might have. This time is theirs and they can ask about any of the content covered in the previous several lessons. Near the end of this opening Q&A time, students are to clear their desks. When preparing for the test during the previous lesson, I informed students they are permitted a one page note sheet that they make. Typical note sheets look like this Student Note Sheet. While there is value in memorizing, I prefer that students focus their study time understanding and using the the many formulas we have on this test.

My classroom has students seated at tables in groups of four. Because of this, everyone is seated next to someone and across from someone else. So that students to not read the answers off of someone else's quiz, I sometimes create different versions of the quiz or test and alternate them between students. However, for this assessment there is only one version so the students put up the manila folder barriers they have at their desks to block their line of site of other students' quizzes.

Energy Test

45 minutes

The test has two parts to it. An Energy Test Open Ended section with word problems and an Energy Test Multiple-Choice section. These two parts together cover all of the concepts learned in this unit which include: conservation of energy, kinetic energy, potential energy, thermal energy lost, work and power. This test is a mix of conceptual understanding of the energy concepts and students ability to mathematically apply them. 

The free response problems for the test include a roller coaster problem where students apply the conservation of energy to determine the velocity at various points. I want to know that students can apply the conservation of energy to a closed-system and that they know when to use the kinetic energy equation solved for the velocity.  There is also a question present where students must take energy loss due to air resistance into account. This is a multi-step problem that students have seen before, but in a different situation. I want to know if they can think through the process required to solve this problem. It starts with a calculation of the starting potential energy, which is the total energy of the ball. Then you subtract the final kinetic energy and that is how much energy is lost due to air resistance. With no air resistance, these two energies would be even. I use Energy Test Open-Ended Solutions to correct the student work.

A goal of the presenting word problems is to check that students solve them in a systematic and organized fashion. I require the students to show their work and I write on the quiz that "VFW is required for full credit".  Using VFW has been used all year so students are comfortable with this. VFW stands for 

  • Variables: students must list the variables that are given and for which they must sovle.
  • Formulas: students must write the formula without the numbers.
  • Work: students show their work and mathematical manipulations.

The multiple-choice questions are a mix of conceptual questions and questions that require the use of mathematics. Again, these questions are representative of the questions they have been dealing with throughout the unit. Multiple-choice problems are not ideal as students can have no idea what the answer is but still get it correct with a guess. However, they are easy to correct with Energy Test Multiple-Choice Answers and with the use of many questions, I get a good idea of the concepts that students understand.