Move It! Move It!

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Students will begin crafting explanations of the kinetic energy of a system.

Big Idea

Kinetic energy is the energy of motion.


This lesson addresses the HS-PS3-1 and HSA-REI.1a standards as a way to effectively construct an understanding of a simple computational model of kinetic energy. Students study concepts related to energy using the NGSS Practices of Developing and Using Models (SP2), Constructing Explanations (SP6), and Obtaining, Evaluating and Communicating Information (SP8) by creating visuals that illustrate the motion of a roller coaster and explain the concept of kinetic energy. This relates to (SP6) because students have to leverage skills create a set of step-by-step solutions to problems involving kinetic energy. 

Students begin by writing observations in their notebooks about the motion of a roller coaster. Students then take notes using video notes with embedded pause points. Students use this information to create a visual that demonstrates an understanding of kinetic energy using roller coasters as a model. I assess student understanding throughout the lesson using informal check-ins and assess each student's work at the end of the school day. I want students to learn to integrate information from various points of this course into a coherent presentation. One goal of this lesson is to help students learn that applying computational models to the kinetic energy of systems is an essential skill for learning physics.


10 minutes

This portion of the lesson begins with a routine where students write the objective and additional piece of information in their notebooks as soon as they enter the classroom. I project a slide with the date, the objective and an additional prompt  on the interactive whiteboard with a red label that says "COPY THIS" in the top left-hand corner. Sometimes the additional prompt is a BIG IDEA for the lesson or the Quote of the Day or a Quick Fact from current events that is related to the lesson. The red label helps my students easily interact with the information as soon as they enter the room and avoids losing transition time as students enter the classroom.

Today's additional piece of information is a Big Idea which states that kinetic energy is the energy of motion. The objective of the bell-ringer is to give students a clear understanding of the focus of today's lesson. I choose to incorporate video notes with pause points because I want students to learn that constructing explanations using technology is a useful skill for studying and practicing physics.

I follow this bell ringer with a See-Think-Wonder. Students draw a table with three columns with the headings: "See", "Think", and "Wonder" and write the information they observe in the video below in their notebooks.

Once the video ends I ask students: "Why do we like roller coasters?" Some student responses include,  "We like the thrill of speeding across a track while knowing we are safe," and "Roller coasters shake us up and make us feel weightless". 

EDpuzzle: Kinetic Energy

15 minutes

Within this lesson, I include a set of notes in the form of an EDpuzzle that I project at the interactive whiteboard at the front of the room. This part of the lesson focuses on a computational model for kinetic energy in physics. For the first ten minutes, I play the EDpuzzle at the front of the room for the entire class and pause at the pause points that have I embedded as green question marks in the video. Students write their answers to the pause points in their notebooks. 

During the first ten minutes, students take notes in their notebooks. I ask students if they have any questions or concerns about the methods discussed in the video. We have a whole class discussion for 2-4 minutes. Some students ask, "Why doesn't kinetic energy have a direction?" and "How does this work if there is friction?" While another student comments that, "This relates to the energy skate park." During the last minute of this section of the lesson, I post this video on our class Edmodo wall so that students can watch, pause and replay the video outside of class. During the next section, students are given a web-driven assignment to complete in pairs.

Student Visuals on Kinetic Energy

40 minutes

The purpose of this portion of the lesson is for students to learn that communicating mathematical reasoning in a step-by-step manner can help simplify kinetic energy problems. During the first five minutes of the section, I project a set of requirements on the interactive whiteboard at the front of the room. After discussing the requirements with the class, I ask students to work in pairs to create kinetic energy visuals. Some students ask, "Do we have to include sources when we create mini posters?", and "Will we be able to resubmit a visual if there are errors in our explanations of kinetic energy?" Most students spend the first five minutes or so creating a plan for their kinetic energy visuals in the lab notebooks. Students spend the last thirty minutes of this section working in pairs to create a visual on the kinetic energy of an object.

As students are creating their visuals I walk around checking-in with students to ensure they are meeting all of the requirements from the projected criteria. It takes a little longer for some students to get started than others, but after five minutes or so most student pairs decide how to divide the work and create a gameplan for they are going to create a visual on kinetic energy. When students complete their visuals they turn them in and I assess each visual according to this common physics Rubric. I want students to learn that breaking problems down into more manageable parts may make a solution more viable than it may have appeared at first glance. Using computational models and logic to simplify solutions and identifying mathematical relationships that relate to information given in a problem statement is important for several of the lessons within this unit. Student pairs create visuals using whatever materials they like from the resource area which includes, but is not limited to: 

  • markers
  • highlighters
  • colored pencils
  • sharpies
  • dry erase markers and boards
  • chart paper
  • poster paper
  • Chromebooks

At the end of this section, I pause and ask students to return the materials they used during this section to the front resource station. A resource manager returns each material to a bin or labeled drawer so that the materials are readily available the next time the materials are needed. Click here to see an example of student work.


10 minutes

The closure activity asks students to spend about ten minutes writing down ideas and identifying the most important and challenging portions of today's lesson in their notebooks. Student responses include: "I like EDpuzzles, but I wish I could watch the all the videos without pausing" and "I understanding that kinetic energy is the energy of motion and potential energy is stored because of position".

This type of closure activity asks students to identify points of weakness in their understanding and tools that may help them be successful in producing a presentation that will positively help them during their oral defenses. To wrap up this section of the lesson, I ask students to look at the videos from this lesson that I post on the class Edmodo wall.