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published by the National Energy Education Development Project
Available Languages: English, Spanish
This teaching module for Grades 6-8 introduces energy transfers and transformations and the flow of energy through systems. The core of the lesson is its 14 custom graphics developed by the NEED project to show energy flow in real-life systems, from start to finish. The graphics (much easier to digest than Sankey diagrams) were designed to help students understand that energy can be transferred and converted into other forms, but never destroyed. It includes a unique "Energy Flow Card" game, where students engage in creative dramatics to act out energy transformations by connecting the cards correctly.  

The NEED Project is a national initiative to bring innovative curriculum materials in energy education to teachers and learners from the primary grades through college.
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Classical Mechanics
- Work and Energy
Education Foundations
- Cognition
= Cognition Development
Education Practices
- Active Learning
Electricity & Magnetism
- Electric Fields and Potential
= Electric Field
- Electromagnetic Induction
= Motors and Generators
- Electromagnetic Radiation
- Magnetic Fields and Forces
Other Sciences
- Environmental Science
Thermo & Stat Mech
- First Law
= Heat Transfer
- Middle School
- Instructional Material
= Curriculum
= Curriculum support
= Instructor Guide/Manual
= Problem/Problem Set
= Student Guide
- Assessment Material
= Answer Key
- Audio/Visual
= Illustration
= Image/Image Set
Appropriate Courses Categories Ratings
- Physical Science
- Lesson Plan
- Activity
- Assessment
- New teachers
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© 2012 National Energy Education Development Project
chemical energy, energy forms, energy lessons, energy sources, fossil fuels, hydroelectric energy, light energy, nonrenewable energy, radiant energy, renewable energy, solar energy, thermal energy, wind energy
Record Cloner:
Metadata instance created April 26, 2013 by Caroline Hall
Record Updated:
February 13, 2014 by Lyle Barbato

AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008 Version)

4. The Physical Setting

4B. The Earth
  • 6-8: 4B/M7. Water evaporates from the surface of the earth, rises and cools, condenses into rain or snow, and falls again to the surface. The water falling on land collects in rivers and lakes, soil, and porous layers of rock, and much of it flows back into the oceans. The cycling of water in and out of the atmosphere is a significant aspect of the weather patterns on Earth.
  • 6-8: 4B/M8. Fresh water, limited in supply, is essential for some organisms and industrial processes. Water in rivers, lakes, and underground can be depleted or polluted, making it unavailable or unsuitable for life.
  • 6-8: 4B/M10ab. Some material resources are very rare and some exist in great quantities. The ability to obtain and process resources depends on where they are located and the form they are in. As resources are depleted, they may become more difficult to obtain.
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.
4G. Forces of Nature
  • 6-8: 4G/M3. Electric currents and magnets can exert a force on each other.

8. The Designed World

8C. Energy Sources and Use
  • 3-5: 8C/E1. Moving air and water can be used to run machines.
  • 6-8: 8C/M1. Transformations and transfers of energy within a system usually result in some energy escaping into its surrounding environment. Some systems transfer less energy to their environment than others during these transformations and transfers.
  • 6-8: 8C/M2. Different ways of obtaining, transforming, and distributing energy have different environmental consequences.
  • 6-8: 8C/M4. Electrical energy can be generated from a variety of energy resources and can be transformed into almost any other form of energy. Electric circuits are used to distribute energy quickly and conveniently to distant locations.
  • 6-8: 8C/M5. Energy from the sun (and the wind and water energy derived from it) is available indefinitely. Because the transfer of energy from these resources is weak and variable, systems are needed to collect and concentrate the energy.
  • 6-8: 8C/M8. People have invented ingenious ways of deliberately bringing about energy transformations that are useful to them.
  • 6-8: 8C/M10. Some resources are not renewable or renew very slowly. Fuels already accumulated in the earth, for instance, will become more difficult to obtain as the most readily available resources run out. How long the resources will last, however, is difficult to predict. The ultimate limit may be the prohibitive cost of obtaining them.

This resource is part of a Physics Front Topical Unit.

Topic: Conservation of Energy
Unit Title: Energy Transformation

This mini-unit will appeal to all learning styles. It features the best set of graphic displays we've seen for breaking down how energy is transformed in real-life systems. The custom graphics are free for download and MUCH easier to digest than Sankey diagrams. Lesson includes "Energy Flow Card" game, where students act out energy transformations by connecting the cards correctly.

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Record Link
AIP Format
(National Energy Education Development Project, Manassas, 2012), WWW Document, (http://www.need.org/files/curriculum/guides/Energy%20Flows.pdf).
NEED Project: Energy Flows (National Energy Education Development Project, Manassas, 2012), <http://www.need.org/files/curriculum/guides/Energy%20Flows.pdf>.
APA Format
NEED Project: Energy Flows. (2012). Retrieved April 24, 2014, from National Energy Education Development Project: http://www.need.org/files/curriculum/guides/Energy%20Flows.pdf
Chicago Format
National Energy Education Development Project. NEED Project: Energy Flows. Manassas: National Energy Education Development Project, 2012. http://www.need.org/files/curriculum/guides/Energy%20Flows.pdf (accessed 24 April 2014).
MLA Format
NEED Project: Energy Flows. Manassas: National Energy Education Development Project, 2012. 24 Apr. 2014 <http://www.need.org/files/curriculum/guides/Energy%20Flows.pdf>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Title = {NEED Project: Energy Flows}, Publisher = {National Energy Education Development Project}, Volume = {2014}, Number = {24 April 2014}, Year = {2012} }
Refer Export Format

%T NEED Project:  Energy Flows
%D 2012
%I National Energy Education Development Project
%C Manassas
%U http://www.need.org/files/curriculum/guides/Energy%20Flows.pdf
%O application/pdf

EndNote Export Format

%0 Electronic Source
%D 2012
%T NEED Project:  Energy Flows
%I National Energy Education Development Project
%V 2014
%N 24 April 2014
%9 application/pdf
%U http://www.need.org/files/curriculum/guides/Energy%20Flows.pdf

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