Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Lab: What is Energy??

I. LOVE. TEACHING.  Love it... Love it... love it.  I can't wait for tomorrow where my students get to become a newscast in the Amazon Rainforest; however, today I had such a great time teaching them about energy.  The best is peaking their interest.   As I have said before, I use the 5 E model when teaching science.  Today was our Engage and Explore lesson on forms of energy.

So how do you engage a bunch of kids on energy?  

Get yourself a beaker of colored water, double pan balance, rock and a flashlight.

Place rock on balance which moves down (proved it has mass)
Place rock in beaker which the water will rise (water displacement and proves rock has volume)
Ask what that means about the rock? (It is matter.)
Ask: what about light? and turn off the lights.
Shine light on balance, then in the beaker.... both don't move (proves light is not matter)... some kids are actually surprised by this.  Its these moments where I know bulbs will be lighting up as to understanding the simple things we take for granted.
Ask:  If light is not matter, then what is it?  JOURNAL TIME (7-10 minutes using good vocabulary)

So after writing, I asked them, did anyone think they knew what light was if it was not matter?  In each class, someone said energy.... (hear all the others say, "oooooh yeah....." ) Does anyone know any other forms of energy?  Now its time to explore 4 different stations of energy. 

First the students put a 4 door foldable in their journal... I know ... I know... this picture shows a completed lab and not the beginning one, but you can see the foldable.  I am trying to focus more on asking the students why they think something happened rather than what happened. 
On the front flaps, they had to draw and label a diagram of the completed station.  Underneath the flap on the lines of their journal, they had to write why they thought whatever happened, happened.  (I hate it when words do this in a sentence, the double repetition- it leads to major confusion... mostly by me because I cant wrap my head around the repetition... next time Ill find another word rather than repeat it)

Station One.... (Thermal Energy...but students have not yet discovered the term)
Hot water, cold water, sugar cubes and 2 cups.

You know its doing magic in the classroom when you watch sugar dissolve.  Bringing understanding to life's everyday simplicity makes you one cool teacher....

Station Two.... (Mechanical Energy)
Rubber ball and ping pong ball (same size), meter stick
Here's our 2nd YouTube Video!!!! I am feeling so techie....

Although she is technically wrong... I am impressed that she is considering gravity as a reason. 

Station Three (Electricity)
Styrofoam pieces, cut pieces of paper, inflated balloon and a piece of wool (it didn't work for us, so we rubbed the balloons on our heads which worked really well)
The set up
One of our most beloved Spec Ed aides... she let the kids rub the balloon on her sweater when the wool cloth wouldn't work.  They love her so much and so do I!

vigorously rubbing the balloon

How high can the balloon be away from the items and still make them move? WHY??
Future artist.... not the best speller... good thing I'm grading on content and not spelling :)

Station Four (Chemical Energy.... but they really are witnessing a chemical change)
Colored water, bleach, pipette, cup, graduated cylinder, waste water bucket, and GOGGLES!

5 drops should do the trick... try 20.... maybe I shouldn't have used red??

Whew!!! I know, I know.... it's a lot... but it happened so fast... 10-11 minutes per station was more than enough time to get their work done.  Thursday we will be reading on different forms of energy and completing a foldable on it... Here's what I did last year... I know... you're probably thinking, "Good grief!!! Does this chick ever stop taking pictures?!?!"  Yeah I know... what can I say... I'm a visual learner :)


So I am off to the Rain forest Newscast Conference tomorrow and back to energy learning on Thursday.  I cant believe I have blogged this much this month!!!! Can you?!?!?!  Happy teaching!


  1. You have saved me, dear!! Thank you so much for sharing. I am a first year science teacher and my biggest problem is getting started or introducing new units of study to my 5th grade buddies. I am actually going on maternity leave soon, so I have to create lessons for my sweet sub. I am totally going to have her introduce Energy using these stations. Thank you a million times!!!

    The Science Life

  2. Do you have the foldable you could share? I can't see the pages very well.

    1. Hi Jaime,
      I am so sorry for the late reply. I am just getting back into blogging. But I did not have a foldable that I can put up... I used the one at the top of the blog from a book by Dinah Zikes http://www.amazon.com/Notebook-Foldables-Spirals-Binders-Composition/dp/1882796276 It comes with a CD that allows you to adjust the foldable to whatever content area you teach. The construction paper ones, we just made in class with pieces I cut out. Hope this helps!