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published by the Annenberg Foundation
This interactive animation packs lots of punch, as it incorporates many types of energy transfers and/or conversions into one Rube Goldberg-style chain reaction. It initiates with a cat batting at a feather and releasing a steel ball. After several steps, the cat's food is released into its feeding dish. The animation is automatically paused at intervals to introduce question-and-answer sets.

This resource is appropriate for grades 5-8. It is part of the Annenberg Foundation's Science in Focus project.

Please note that this resource requires Flash.
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Classical Mechanics
- Work and Energy
= Conservation of Energy
= Mechanical Power
Electricity & Magnetism
- DC Circuits
= Power and Energy
Thermo & Stat Mech
- First Law
= Heat Transfer
- Middle School
- Elementary School
- Instructional Material
= Activity
= Problem/Problem Set
- Audio/Visual
= Movie/Animation
Appropriate Courses Categories Ratings
- Physical Science
- Physics First
- Activity
- New teachers
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© 2011 Annenberg Foundation
Rube Goldberg device, energy animation, energy conservation, energy conversion, energy transformation
Record Creator:
Metadata instance created March 11, 2011 by Caroline Hall
Record Updated:
March 11, 2011 by Caroline Hall
Last Update
when Cataloged:
June 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.
  • 6-8: 4E/M6. Light and other electromagnetic waves can warm objects. How much an object's temperature increases depends on how intense the light striking its surface is, how long the light shines on the object, and how much of the light is absorbed.

8. The Designed World

8C. Energy Sources and Use
  • 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/M8. People have invented ingenious ways of deliberately bringing about energy transformations that are useful to them.

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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Record Link
AIP Format
(Annenberg Foundation, 2011), WWW Document, (https://www.learner.org/workshops/energy/cattraption/).
Science in Focus: Cat-Traption, (Annenberg Foundation, 2011), <https://www.learner.org/workshops/energy/cattraption/>.
APA Format
Science in Focus: Cat-Traption. (2010, June 30). Retrieved August 11, 2020, from Annenberg Foundation: https://www.learner.org/workshops/energy/cattraption/
Chicago Format
Annenberg Foundation. Science in Focus: Cat-Traption. Annenberg Foundation, June 30, 2010. https://www.learner.org/workshops/energy/cattraption/ (accessed 11 August 2020).
MLA Format
Science in Focus: Cat-Traption. Annenberg Foundation, 2011. 30 June 2010. 11 Aug. 2020 <https://www.learner.org/workshops/energy/cattraption/>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Title = {Science in Focus: Cat-Traption}, Publisher = {Annenberg Foundation}, Volume = {2020}, Number = {11 August 2020}, Month = {June 30, 2010}, Year = {2011} }
Refer Export Format

%T Science in Focus: Cat-Traption
%D June 30, 2010
%I Annenberg Foundation
%U https://www.learner.org/workshops/energy/cattraption/
%O application/flash

EndNote Export Format

%0 Electronic Source
%D June 30, 2010
%T Science in Focus: Cat-Traption
%I Annenberg Foundation
%V 2020
%N 11 August 2020
%8 June 30, 2010
%9 application/flash
%U https://www.learner.org/workshops/energy/cattraption/

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Science in Focus: Cat-Traption:

Covers the Same Topic As Middle School Portal: Energy Transfers and Transformations

A collection of lessons, activities, and background information for teaching a unit on energy transformation in middle school.

relation by Caroline Hall

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