Editor selections by Topic and Unit

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## Physics First:Conservation of Energy Units

Understanding the interconnectedness of the concepts of conservation of energy, momentum and angular momentum underpins the basis for much of physics. Units are not listed in a prescribed order.

### Teaching About Energy (9)

#### Activities:

This student activity is designed to explore the concept of work and gravitational potential energy through the system of a roller coaster.  Includes detailed directions, elicitation questions, example data sheets, and assessments. It is part of the workshop manual on Energy, developed by the PTRA, Physics Teacher Resource Agents, and supported by the American Association of Physics Teachers.

Item Type: Lesson Plan
Level: Grades 7-9
Duration: 1-2 Class Periods

This student activity is designed to explore the energy that can be provided by burning fuels. It is part of a workshop manual on Energy, developed by the PTRA, Physics Teacher Resource Agents, and supported by the American Association of Physics Teachers.

Item Type: Lesson Plan
Level: Grades 7-10
Duration: One Class Period

This unique activity promotes understanding of the concept of power. Students are asked to measure their gain in gravitational potential energy as they climb a flight of stairs, then calculate the rate at which this potential energy is gained. This lesson is part of a workshop manual on Energy developed by the PTRA, Physics Teacher Resource Agents, and supported by the American Association of Physics Teachers. Includes assessment.

Item Type: Lesson Plan
Level: Grades 8-12

This simulation-based lesson was developed by a middle school science teacher to help students visualize how energy is conserved in a simple pendulum (a child swinging on a swing). Students can drag the swing to different heights, then activate the motion. As the swing moves in periodic motion, energy bar graphs are shown in real-time.....letting students see the changing levels of kinetic and potential energy. Highly recommended by editors. Includes full lesson plan and printable student guide. Easily adaptable for high school.

Item Type: Simulation-based Lesson
Level: Grades 6-9
Duration: One Class Period

#### References and Collections:

A fuel cell is a device that converts chemical energy directly to electrical energy, resulting in greater fuel efficiency and fewer emissions.  This online report from Los Alamos National Lab, written for non-scientists, is a solid overview of fuel cell technology for teachers planning a unit on clean energy or alternative fuels.

Item Type: Reference Material
Level: General Audiences

This resource links to the Energy section of the Science Literacy Benchmarks published by the AAAS.  It is a statement of desired learning outcomes on the topic of Energy Transformations for grades 2, 5, 8, and 12.

One of the best websites we've found for exploring different sources of energy and the advantages/disadvantages of each. Sections include: fossil fuels, solar, wind and geothermal energy, hydroelectric power, nuclear, and biomass. Don't miss the sections on tidal energy and ocean wave energy! Each section provides video clips, images, and diagrams to help kids see how the processes work.

Item Type: Multimedia Collection
Level: Grades 6-12

#### Student Tutorials:

Work-Energy bar charts are a conceptual tool which depict the amount of each form of energy within a system as it undergoes transfer or conversion from a particular motion or process.  This animated tutorial helps students understand the intricate relationship between work and energy, an area of common misconception.

Item Type: Interactive Tutorial
Level: Grades 9-12

This five-part tutorial helps users analyze motion from the perspective of Work and Energy.  Explore potential energy, kinetic energy, and total mechanical energy with the help of descriptive text, sample problems with solutions, force diagrams, and links to related animations. Resource was designed for students of high school physics, but could also be very useful as a refresher for middle school teachers.

Item Type: Interactive Tutorial
Level: Grades 8-12
Duration: 45 minutes

### What is Energy? (5)

#### Activities:

This interactive offers a host of tools to explore the relationships among force, work, and energy. You can control ramp angle, friction, and magnitude of force. Choose from different objects to run up the ramp: a box, a dog, a piano, and more. As students move objects of varying mass up an incline, they can adjust the angle of the ramp, friction, and applied force.  Can be modified to meet curriculum of grades 5-12. Note: Resource requires Java

Item Type: Interactive Simulation
Level: Grades 5-12
Duration: 1-2 Class Periods

This page features animations of carts traveling at constant speed on three inclines of equal distance but varying slopes.  Which path requires the most energy?

Item Type: Interactive Tutorial
Level: Grades 8-12

#### References and Collections:

It can be hard for students to understand the difference between energy sources and energy forms. This tutorial from the U.S. Energy Information Administration defines and gives examples of renewable and nonrenewable energy sources, energy transfer, and forms of energy (with emphasis on kinetic and potential forms). It is simple, but packs punch with its easy-to-follow diagrams, tables, and images.

Item Type: Online Tutorial
Level: Grades 5-9

#### Student Tutorials:

This creative student tutorial offers an interactive look at kinetic and potential energy, spring potential energy, gravitational potential energy, heat and temperature, and nuclear energy.  The author uses an entertaining blend of text, animations, and simulations to engage the student.

Item Type: Interactive Tutorial
Level: Grades 9-12

The author of The Physics Classroom has tied together the concepts of work, power, and Conservation of Energy in this set of 6 interactive tutorials for high school students. It provides a good foundation for future understanding of the Work-Energy Theorem. This section is appropriate for Physics First, as well as high school physics courses.

Item Type: Interactive Tutorial
Level: Grades 9-12

### Energy Forms and Sources (10)

#### Lesson Plans:

This site from the U.S. Energy Information Administration provides a large set of lesson plans for teaching about energy. Lessons are organized in four categories: primary (30), elementary (25), intermediate (22), and secondary (15 lessons). Topics include forms of energy, fossil fuels, geothermal, solar, nuclear, wind, U.S. energy consumption, and more.

Item Type: Lesson Plans
Level: K-12

#### Activities:

The sun is the ultimate renewable energy source. This page provides step-by-step directions for constructing a solar oven using simple, easily-obtained materials. It includes a pattern for building the oven, detailed background information, and construction plans for student use.

Item Type: Project-Based Learning
Level: Grades 6-10
Duration: 2-3 Class Periods

This resource gives step-by-step instructions for building a vertical axis wind turbine in secondary classrooms.  The 17-page construction plans may be freely downloaded and are organized for first-time builders.  A printable lesson plan is provided, as well as comprehensive background information on wind energy. Highly recommended: Meets all 3 Dimensions of the NGSS for integrating the engineering design process in building, testing, and refining a device that converts energy from one form to another.

Item Type: Project-Based Learning
Level: Grades 6-12
Duration: 3-4 Class Periods

This resource gives step-by-step instructions for building a water-powered electric generator from plastic spoons.  The model closely resembles real micro-hydro designs, and can produce enough electricity to light a small light bulb.  Detailed background information and links to animated tours of hydroelectric power plants are included. Also highly recommended. Cost is quite reasonable for a week-long maker project.

Item Type: Project-Based Learning
Level: Grades 6-12
Duration: 3-4 Class Periods

This virtual tour begins as water from a reservoir flows through a large pipe at the bottom of a dam and acts to power a giant turbine.  Students can see how energy is transformed mechanical to electrical by the excitation of electrons within magnets inside the turbine shaft. This activity would be great teamed with the project above on building a water-powered generator.

Item Type: Interactive Animation
Level: Grades 6-12
Duration: 20-30 minutes

#### References and Collections:

For the teacher looking for an immersion experience in green energy for grades 6-12, this resource offers detailed labs with set-up instructions for constructing a wind turbine, solar oven, water-powered electric generator, and bio-gas generator.  Extensive content support is integrated throughout.

Item Type: Project-Based Learning
Level: Grades 6-12

A fuel cell is a device that converts chemical energy directly to electrical energy, resulting in greater fuel efficiency and fewer emissions.  This overview of fuel cell technology was written by Los Alamos National Lab for non-scientists. It could serve as a great reference for teachers planning a unit on clean energy or alternative fuels or as a tutorial for high school students.

Item Type: Reference Material
Level: General Audiences

This website contains nine sets of curriculum materials on renewable energy sources, organized into units of instruction for Grades K-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12.   Topics include High Energy Hydrogen, Solar Matters, and Alternative Fuels.

Item Type: Curriculum
Level: Grades K-12

#### Content Support For Teachers:

This site from the U.S. Energy Information Administration provides a wide array of tutorials, background information, lesson plans, games, and activities for teaching about energy. The section on Energy Sources is especially well-developed. Accompanying lessons are organized in four levels: primary, elementary, intermediate, and secondary.

Item Type: Curriculum Support
Level: K-12

#### Student Tutorials:

One of the best websites we've found for exploring different sources of energy and the advantages/disadvantages of each. Sections include: fossil fuels, solar, wind and geothermal energy, hydroelectric power, nuclear, and biomass. Don't miss the sections on tidal energy and ocean wave energy! Each section provides video clips, images, and diagrams to help kids see how the processes work.

Item Type: Multimedia Collection
Level: Grades 6-12

### Conservation of Energy (10)

#### Lesson Plans:

The Law of Conservation of Energy can be misunderstood, even by students who have had prior instruction. This lesson, developed by physicist David Stern, offers unique and engaging ideas for elicitation and warm-up exercises.

Item Type: Lesson Plan
Level: Grades 9-12

This 8-day instructional unit for middle school integrates engineering practice into a study of the energy of motion. Through investigations of waterwheels, roller coasters, bouncing balls, and a pendulum, students get a solid introduction to energy transformation in a mechanical system. The unit also introduces static and kinetic friction, drag, elastic/inelastic collision, and students learn to calculate frictional force. Don't have time to do the full unit? Lessons can be pulled out individually.

Item Type: Instructional Unit
Level: Grades 6-8
Duration: 8-10 Class Periods

#### Activities:

The motion of a pendulum is a classic example of mechanical energy conservation.  In this animated tutorial, energy bar graphs depict the changing ratios of kinetic-to-potential energy as the pendulum swings.

Item Type: Interactive Tutorial
Level: Grades 9-12

This simulation allows the student to design a simple roller coaster, and then evaluates the roller coaster based on physics principles.  It rates each student's roller coaster design for safety and fun, with detailed explanations of the strength or failing of each design. This simulation could work well as a starting point for studying roller coaster motion. The resource below is a perfect follow-up.

Item Type: Interactive Simulation
Level: Grades 6-12

Roller coasters offer an inherently interesting way to study energy transformation. This scaffolded activity lets students choose from 5 track configurations or create their own design, then observe the resulting motion. Energy bar graphs are simultaneously displayed as the roller coaster runs its course. Students can adjust the initial speed of the car, add friction, or switch to stepped motion to see the exact points at which kinetic and potential energy reach maximum and minimum levels. Includes lesson plan and student guide.

Item Type: Computer Model
Level: Grades 6-12

This mobile-friendly simulation is an HTML rewrite of the PhET fave "Energy Skate Park". In this version first explore an idealized system (no friction) and visualize conservation of energy as Energy Bar Graphs display changing kinetic and potential energy levels. Click "Friction" and observe the effects on the skater's motion. The bar graph changes to show kinetic energy being converted to thermal energy, resulting from friction.Note: This version is much simpler than the original Java version of Energy Skate Park, which introduces energy graphs and inputs to set gravitational constant. This version is more appropriate for middle school; the Java version (below) will be preferable to HS physics teachers.

Item Type: Interactive Simulation
Level: 6-12
Duration: One Class Period

This the original Java version of Energy Skate Park. It offers additional features not available in the "Basics" version, such as graphs of Energy vs. Position and Energy vs. Time. Students can change the gravitational constant to see how the motion would appear on different planets.

Item Type: Interactive Simulation
Level: Grades 10-12
Duration: One Class Period

#### Student Tutorials:

Work-Energy bar charts are a conceptual tool which depict the amount of each form of energy within a system as it undergoes a particular motion or process.  This animated tutorial helps students understand conservation of energy as they visualize the relationship between work and energy.

Item Type: Interactive Tutorial
Level: Grades 9-12

In this five-part tutorial you will explore potential energy, kinetic energy, and total mechanical energy with the help of sample problems and solutions, force diagrams, and links to related animations. This tutorial is appropriate for secondary science teachers and for students of high school physics.

Item Type: Interactive Tutorial

#### Assessment:

This set of 35 clicker questions (with answer key) was developed by PhET Gold Star teacher Trish Loeblein for use in the high school classroom with the Energy Skate Park simulation. You can download it as a pdf or as a Power Point file with answer key. It is designed to elicit student understanding of three key things: 1) Relationship of kinetic and potential energy in a mechanical system, 2) Conservation of energy conservation in a system both with and without friction (adding friction introduces the concept of thermal energy), and 3) Relationship of the skater's mass, speed, and track configuration.

Item Type: Formative Assessment
Level: 9-12
Duration: One Class Period

### Energy Transformation (7)

#### Activities:

This virtual tour begins as water from a reservoir flows through a large pipe at the bottom of a dam and acts to power a giant turbine.  Students can see two types of energy transformation:  1) Gravitational Potential Energy transforms to Mechanical Energy when rushing water turns the turbine, and 2) Mechanical Energy is transformed to Electrical Energy by the excitation of electrons within magnets in the turbine shaft.

Item Type: Interactive Animation
Level: Grades 6-12

How do solar panels work to gather energy from the sun and transform it to electrical energy? In this inquiry-based lab, students work in teams to disassemble a calculator, evaluate the design and operation of its component parts, and improve functionality through redesign. The lesson specifically focuses on photovoltaic technology to get kids excited about semiconductor physics. Includes problem set.

Item Type: Lab Activity
Level: Grades 9-12
Duration: Two Class Periods

For teachers doing a unit on photovoltaics, this Flash animation will help students visualize what happens at the atomic scale as captured photons are converted to electric current in the solar cell. Toggle between two types of solar cells: the traditional silicon semiconductor and the newer dye-sensitized cell. Kids will see that there's more than one way to excite an electron.

Item Type: Interactive Animation
Level: Grades 9-12
Duration: 20-30 minutes

This simple, yet thought-provoking simulation helps students to "see" the flow of energy through a real-life system -- from start to finish. They can choose sunlight, steam, flowing water, or mechanical energy to power their systems. Very effective way to visualize energy transformation and a great way to introduce the Law of Conservation of Energy.

Item Type: Interactive Simulation
Level: Grades 4-9
Duration: 30 minutes

#### Student Tutorials:

This animated tutorial features a downhill skier and four energy bar graphs.  Students observe the transformation of energy from potential to kinetic during the descent.  The end of the run is unpacked snow and the skier loses total mechanical energy (TME) to the dissipative force of friction.

Item Type: Interactive Tutorial
Level: Grades 9-12

This tutorial features an animated roller coaster with moving bar graphs that depict kinetic and potential energy as the car descends and climbs. It is an example of a system in which TME (Total Mechanical Energy) remains the same during the course of the motion.

Item Type: Interactive Tutorial
Level: Grades 9-12

The motion of a pendulum is a classic example of mechanical energy conservation.  In this animated tutorial, energy bar graphs depict the changing ratios of kinetic-to-potential energy as the pendulum swings.

Item Type: Interactive Tutorial
Level: Grades 9-12

### Global Issues Related to Energy Resources (2)

#### Activities:

This student activity explores energy flow and conservation and was developed to help students make responsible choices in use of energy resources. It is part of a workshop manual on Energy by the PTRA, (Physics Teacher Resource Agents).

Item Type: Lesson Plan
Level: Grades 9-12

This versatile simulation can be adapted for upper elementary, middle school, and high school. In its simplest form, kids can investigate greenhouse gases that were present in the last Ice Age, in the year 1750, at the present time, and at a point in the future. High school students can adjust levels of 4 atmospheric gases, then "shoot" infrared and visible photons into the atmosphere. How does the balance of gas levels influence photon absorption? Resource requires Java

Item Type: Interactive Simulation
Level: Grades 5-12

### Renewable Energy Sources (7)

#### Lesson Plans:

This multi-day project immerses students in the basics of passive and solar energy through hands-on labs. First, students explore photovoltaic cells and color absorption, then design and construct a small-scale "house" that implements solar panel technologies. The resource has robust instructional support built in: front-loaded vocabulary, pre-activity discussion questions, tips on structuring the cooperative learning groups, data tables to record multiple observations, problem sets that introduce mathematics, extension activity, scoring rubric, and answer key.

Item Type: Project-Based Learning
Level: Grades 9-12
Duration: 7-8 class periods

The sun is the ultimate renewable energy source. This page provides step-by-step directions for constructing a solar oven that really cooks --  using simple, easily-obtained materials. Includes pattern for building the oven, detailed background information, and construction plans for student use.

Item Type: Project-Based Learning
Level: Grades 6-10
Duration: 2-3 Class Periods

Looking for ways to integrate engineering design into the science classroom? This is a 3-day unit for Grades 5-8 that explores passive solar design as students work on teams to build a solar structure with four walls, four windows, two doors, and a roof. They must consider ventilation, conduction, materials choices, and orientation of the structure for optimal heat absorption. After construction, students test their solar houses to determine how well they regulate temperature.

Item Type: Learning Module
Level: Grades 5-9
Duration: 3 Class Periods

#### Activities:

How does a solar panel convert sunlight into electrical current? This interactive animation takes a close-up look at each layer of a basic photovoltaic cell to show how electrons are energized when sunlight strikes the cell.

Item Type: Interactive Animation
Level: Grades 9-12
Duration: 20 minutes

Thought-provoking video takes a realistic view of the promise and challenge of solar power. It explores how solar energy is being currently used to power homes and businesses, and presents research into new methods for implementing solar technology. Free download.

Item Type: Video
Level: Grades 6-12
Duration: 50 minutes

This versatile simulation can be adapted for upper elementary, middle school, and high school. In its simplest form, kids can investigate greenhouse gases that were present in the last Ice Age, in the year 1750, at the present time, and at a point in the future. High school students can adjust levels of 4 atmospheric gases, then "shoot" infrared and visible photons into the atmosphere. How does the balance of gas levels influence photon absorption? Resource requires Java.

Item Type: Interactive Simulation
Level: Grades 6-12

#### Content Support For Teachers:

One of the best websites we've found for exploring different sources of energy and the advantages/disadvantages of each. Sections include: fossil fuels, solar, wind and geothermal energy, hydroelectric power, nuclear, and biomass. Don't miss the sections on tidal energy and ocean wave energy! Each section provides video clips, images, and diagrams to help kids see how the processes work.

Item Type: Multimedia Collection
Level: Grades 6-12

### Special Collections on Energy Education (1)

#### References and Collections:

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. At the core of the project's work are the portfolios of 120+ comprehensive curriculum guides on forms of energy, renewable and nonrenewable sources of energy, electricity, and fuel efficiency. Don't miss the interactive maps and Question Bank for customizing your assessments.

Item Type: Collection
Level: Grades K-12

### Teaching Energy in the Elementary Grades (1)

#### Activities:

This simple, yet thought-provoking simulation helps students to "see" the flow of energy through a real-life system -- from start to finish. They can choose sunlight, steam, flowing water, or mechanical energy to power their systems. Very effective way to visualize energy transformation and a great way to introduce the Law of Conservation of Energy.

Item Type: Interactive Simulation
Level: Grades 4-9
Duration: 30 minutes