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published by the The Ohio State University
supported by the National Science Foundation
This standards-based module for the middle grades offers an array of online lessons and activities to build a unit on energy transformation. It was developed to help students understand how energy moves and changes form, essential to build a foundation in energy interactions. The hands-on activities explore kinetic/potential energy, thermal conductivity, radiation, and heat transfer.

This resource is part of the Middle School Portal, the math/science pathway of the National Science Digital Library.
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Classical Mechanics
- Work and Energy
= Conservation of Energy
Thermo & Stat Mech
- First Law
= Heat Transfer
- Thermal Properties of Matter
= Temperature
- Middle School
- High School
- Instructional Material
= Activity
= Lesson/Lesson Plan
= Unit of Instruction
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- Learners
- text/html
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Free access
This material is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 license.
Rights Holder:
The Ohio State University
conductors, energy conversion, energy unit, insulators
Record Cloner:
Metadata instance created March 11, 2011 by Caroline Hall
Record Updated:
November 16, 2011 by Lyle Barbato
Last Update
when Cataloged:
September 30, 2010

AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008 Version)

4. The Physical Setting

4E. Energy Transformations
  • 6-8: 4E/M1. Whenever energy appears in one place, it must have disappeared from another. Whenever energy is lost from somewhere, it must have gone somewhere else. Sometimes when energy appears to be lost, it actually has been transferred to a system that is so large that the effect of the transferred energy is imperceptible.
  • 6-8: 4E/M2. Energy can be transferred from one system to another (or from a system to its environment) in different ways: 1) thermally, when a warmer object is in contact with a cooler one; 2) mechanically, when two objects push or pull on each other over a distance; 3) electrically, when an electrical source such as a battery or generator is connected in a complete circuit to an electrical device; or 4) by electromagnetic waves.
  • 6-8: 4E/M3. Thermal energy is transferred through a material by the collisions of atoms within the material. Over time, the thermal energy tends to spread out through a material and from one material to another if they are in contact. Thermal energy can also be transferred by means of currents in air, water, or other fluids. In addition, some thermal energy in all materials is transformed into light energy and radiated into the environment by electromagnetic waves; that light energy can be transformed back into thermal energy when the electromagnetic waves strike another material. As a result, a material tends to cool down unless some other form of energy is converted to thermal energy in the material.
  • 6-8: 4E/M4. Energy appears in different forms and can be transformed within a system. Motion energy is associated with the speed of an object. Thermal energy is associated with the temperature of an object. Gravitational energy is associated with the height of an object above a reference point. Elastic energy is associated with the stretching or compressing of an elastic object. Chemical energy is associated with the composition of a substance. Electrical energy is associated with an electric current in a circuit. Light energy is associated with the frequency of electromagnetic waves.

11. Common Themes

11A. Systems
  • 6-8: 11A/M2. Thinking about things as systems means looking for how every part relates to others. The output from one part of a system (which can include material, energy, or information) can become the input to other parts. Such feedback can serve to control what goes on in the system as a whole.
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(Ohio State University, Columbus, 2005), WWW Document, (
Middle School Portal: Energy Transfers and Transformations, (Ohio State University, Columbus, 2005), <>.
APA Format
Middle School Portal: Energy Transfers and Transformations. (2010, September 30). Retrieved April 20, 2018, from Ohio State University:
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National Science Foundation. Middle School Portal: Energy Transfers and Transformations. Columbus: Ohio State University, September 30, 2010. (accessed 20 April 2018).
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Middle School Portal: Energy Transfers and Transformations. Columbus: Ohio State University, 2005. 30 Sep. 2010. National Science Foundation. 20 Apr. 2018 <>.
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@misc{ Title = {Middle School Portal: Energy Transfers and Transformations}, Publisher = {Ohio State University}, Volume = {2018}, Number = {20 April 2018}, Month = {September 30, 2010}, Year = {2005} }
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%T Middle School Portal: Energy Transfers and Transformations
%D September 30, 2010
%I Ohio State University
%C Columbus
%O text/html

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%0 Electronic Source
%D September 30, 2010
%T Middle School Portal: Energy Transfers and Transformations
%I Ohio State University
%V 2018
%N 20 April 2018
%8 September 30, 2010
%9 text/html

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Middle School Portal: Energy Transfers and Transformations:

Covers the Same Topic As Science in Focus: Cat-Traption

A very entertaining animation on energy that employs a Rube Goldberg device to illustrate many types of energy transfer and conversion. The animation is paused at critical points to ask students questions.

relation by Caroline Hall

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