This is a four day project whose purpose is to have students develop an understanding of where and how we get the energy that we use every day. Students use content from several other lessons in this unit including: Energy Skate Park which covers conservation of energy, kinetic and potential energy, The Sankey Diagram which covers several different energy transformations and Energy is NOT Always Conserved which covers E=mc^2.
Day 1: Energy transformation primer. In groups, students review several different types of energy and create an example of their own energy transformation. Then, they choose one area of study from the chart. They determine the types of energy transformations for their area and pass in their work into me for review.
Day 2: In Google docs or MS-Word, the groups create a one page document that explains their area. I meet with student groups to ensure they have accurate information.
Day 3: Student teams present their area to the rest of the class, the first group starts at the center of the sun and we work our way through the entire path that energy takes to reach us. All students take notes on their peers presentations.
Day 4: Individual students trace the path energy takes from the Sun all the way to a thrown baseball.
The NGSS Performance Standards applied in this project are 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) and HS-ETS1-2: Design a solution to a complex real-world problem by breaking it down into smaller, more manageable problems that can be solved through engineering.
The following NGSS Science Practices are also used: Science Practice 1: Asking questions (for science), Science Practice 2: Developing and using models, Science Practice 6: Constructing explanations for science and Science Practice 8: Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information. CCSS Math Practice 3: Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others is also an important part of this as students have a lot of information to sift through and they have to choose what is relevant to their area and communicate it to the rest of the class.
Students present their projects during class today. I tell the class that tomorrow each student takes the information from the various presentations and traces the path energy takes, starting with the center of the sun and ending with a thrown baseball. Therefore, it is important that all students take notes during today's presentations. Specifically, they should record the types of energies and the amount of energy as given by the each groups' Sankey Diagram or Parker Diagram (explained in the previous lesson).
The presentations start with the top-most area, the creation of energy in the center of the sun. Student groups take 3-6 minutes to present their specific energy transformations and answer any questions that students might have.
Each student group presents their area on the chart. Some groups made an electronic presentation in Google docs, such as Atmosphere energy transformations. Other groups make a hand drawn presentation, such as Human energy transformations. We project their work with a document camera. It takes the full class period to complete the presentations.
While the presentations are happening, I am filling out the Energy Transformations Rubric for each group and making comments for them to review. After the presentation is over, I give the group that just presented immediate feedback while the next group comes up and prepares for their lesson.
After the presentations are done, I preview tomorrow's lesson. When I throw a baseball, I give that ball kinetic energy. If I go backwards in time and trace the path that energy took, I end up in the center of our sun. Tomorrow, each student uses the information learned today to create a one-page diagram that shows the path energy takes from the center of the sun to a thrown baseball.