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Energy Theater: Exploring Energy Transfer and Transformation
written by Alice Flarend and Caroline Hall
consultant: David Straw
This AAPT lesson for high school conceptual physics incorporates student movement to promote deeper understanding of how energy moves and transforms among objects and systems. It features several interdisciplinary scenarios in which energy moves from one system to another or is converted from one form to another (energy transformation). Students play the role of "energy actors", moving from one defined system to another or transforming (i.e., from chemical-to-thermal energy). The lesson was inspired by an article in The Physics Teacher magazine, written by Abigail Daane, Lindsay Wells, and Rachel Scherr.
Editor's Note: Teachers - this activity will ensure that students think deeply about energy interactions. As they move about from one "system" to another and use hand-held signs to denote changing energy forms, every learner will be actively engaged in figuring out how energy moves/transforms. Expect lively discussions and productive group collaborations! The lesson is appropriate for Physics First or for a conceptual physics course.
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Classical Mechanics
- Work and Energy
= Conservation of Energy
Education Practices
- Active Learning
- High School
- Instructional Material
= Instructor Guide/Manual
= Lesson/Lesson Plan
= Problem/Problem Set
= Student Guide
Appropriate Courses Categories Ratings
- Physical Science
- Physics First
- Conceptual Physics
- Lesson Plan
- Activity
- Assessment
- New teachers
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© 2018 American Association of Physics Teachers
energy forms, energy transfer, kinesthetic learning
Record Creator:
Metadata instance created December 17, 2018 by Caroline Hall
Record Updated:
December 17, 2018 by Caroline Hall
Last Update
when Cataloged:
October 16, 2018

Next Generation Science Standards

Energy (HS-PS3)

Students who demonstrate understanding can: (9-12)
  • Develop and use models to illustrate that energy at the macroscopic scale can be accounted for as either motions of particles or energy stored in fields. (HS-PS3-2)

Disciplinary Core Ideas (K-12)

Definitions of Energy (PS3.A)
  • A system of objects may also contain stored (potential) energy, depending on their relative positions. (6-8)
  • Energy is a quantitative property of a system that depends on the motion and interactions of matter and radiation within that system. That there is a single quantity called energy is due to the fact that a system's total energy is conserved, even as, within the system, energy is continually transferred from one object to another and between its various possible forms. (9-12)
Conservation of Energy and Energy Transfer (PS3.B)
  • Energy cannot be created or destroyed, but it can be transported from one place to another and transferred between systems. (9-12)

Crosscutting Concepts (K-12)

Systems and System Models (K-12)
  • When investigating or describing a system, the boundaries and initial conditions of the system need to be defined and their inputs and outputs analyzed and described using models. (9-12)
  • Models can be used to predict the behavior of a system, but these predictions have limited precision and reliability due to the assumptions and approximations inherent in models. (9-12)
  • Models (e.g., physical, mathematical, computer models) can be used to simulate systems and interactions—including energy, matter, and information flows—within and between systems at different scales. (9-12)
Energy and Matter (2-12)
  • Energy cannot be created or destroyed—it only moves between one place and another place, between objects and/or fields, or between systems. (9-12)

NGSS Science and Engineering Practices (K-12)

Developing and Using Models (K-12)
  • Modeling in 9–12 builds on K–8 and progresses to using, synthesizing, and developing models to predict and show relationships among variables between systems and their components in the natural and designed worlds. (9-12)
    • Develop a model based on evidence to illustrate the relationships between systems or between components of a system. (9-12)
    • Use a model to provide mechanistic accounts of phenomena. (9-12)
ComPADRE is beta testing Citation Styles!

Record Link
AIP Format
A. Flarend and C. Hall, , 2018, WWW Document, (https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=14751&DocID=4903).
A. Flarend and C. Hall, Energy Theater: Exploring Energy Transfer and Transformation, , 2018, <https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=14751&DocID=4903>.
APA Format
Flarend, A., & Hall, C. (2018). Energy Theater: Exploring Energy Transfer and Transformation. Retrieved February 22, 2019, from https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=14751&DocID=4903
Chicago Format
Flarend, Alice, and Caroline Hall. "Energy Theater: Exploring Energy Transfer and Transformation." 2018. https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=14751&DocID=4903 (accessed 22 February 2019).
MLA Format
Flarend, Alice, and Caroline Hall. Energy Theater: Exploring Energy Transfer and Transformation. 2018. 22 Feb. 2019 <https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=14751&DocID=4903>.
BibTeX Export Format
@techreport{ Author = "Alice Flarend and Caroline Hall", Title = {Energy Theater: Exploring Energy Transfer and Transformation}, Month = {October}, Year = {2018} }
Refer Export Format

%A Alice Flarend
%A Caroline Hall
%T Energy Theater: Exploring Energy Transfer and Transformation
%D October 16, 2018
%U https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=14751&DocID=4903
%O application/pdf

EndNote Export Format

%0 Report
%A Flarend, Alice
%A Hall, Caroline
%D October 16, 2018
%T Energy Theater: Exploring Energy Transfer and Transformation
%8 October 16, 2018
%U https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=14751&DocID=4903

Disclaimer: ComPADRE offers citation styles as a guide only. We cannot offer interpretations about citations as this is an automated procedure. Please refer to the style manuals in the Citation Source Information area for clarifications.

Citation Source Information

The AIP Style presented is based on information from the AIP Style Manual.

The APA Style presented is based on information from APA Style.org: Electronic References.

The Chicago Style presented is based on information from Examples of Chicago-Style Documentation.

The MLA Style presented is based on information from the MLA FAQ.

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