Lesson plan

Make it Move: Force and Energy in Action

Make it move! In this lesson, students will learn about energy and make connections between force and energy. Through a hands-on approach, students will work in teams to construct and report on their experiments.
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Students will be able to recognize examples of kinetic and potential energy. Students will be able to make connections between force, motion, and energy. Students will be able to construct a science experiment about force, motion, and energy. Students will be able to make predictions and reflect on the results.

(5 minutes)
  • Lead the students in a moving exercise.
  • Tell the students that their movement was an example of kinetic energy, which is the energy of motion. Give them an example of kinetic energy, such as a child who is running down the street.
  • Explain that potential energy is the energy that is stored in an object. An example of potential energy would be a child who is sitting still.
  • Tell the students that they will be doing an experiment and learning more about force, motion, and energy.
(15 minutes)
  • Display Potential versus Kinetic Energy and Different Forms of Energy. Read aloud each section and highlight the key words and ideas. Further explain any questions which arise from this read aloud and discussion.
  • Explain the concept of force, or push or pull factors, and how various forces can affect objects and the energy within them.
  • Take the students on a field trip to the playground! Gather the students around the slide so that all can view the example.
  • Tell the students that you are going to demonstrate predicting and then testing the effects of potential and kinetic energy using a slide on the playground.
  • Show the students the graphic organizer that you will use to record notes during your experiment.
  • Model the process of writing a question, and make a prediction.
  • Show the students how you can use a ball, penny, and marshmallow and record the time it takes for each object to move down the slide on the playground.
  • Demonstrate the process of recording your results on the graphic organizer.
(15 minutes)
  • During the guided practice, students will have the opportunity to develop the idea for their experiment and then present it to the class for suggestions.
  • Give students examples of building slides, swings, and tunnels to complete their experiment.
  • Divide students into groups of 3-5 students each.
  • Direct the students to brainstorm possible ways they can can build a structure to test force and energy and how the objects are affected.
  • Give the groups 5-10 minutes to discuss as smaller groups and then call the students back to the whole group.
  • Allow individual groups to share their ideas, and challenge other students to ask clarifying questions using the question guides.
(35 minutes)
  • Distribute a bucket or container with the following items: building materials (such as cardboard, paper, aluminum foil, etc.), tape, an object test kit, and a stopwatch.
  • Distribute a pencil and the Experiment Organizer to each group.
  • If desired, assign a role to each student (such as assigning a timekeeper, a recorder, or a reporter).
  • Give the students 30 minutes to complete their building and experiment. If desired, break this apart into individual sections and notify students how much time is left before they will need to start the next part.
  • Circulate around the groups to assist as needed.
  • Enrichment: Challenge the students to use their groups' structures and improve them in some way. Challenge the students to brainstorm other materials that could be used to create an additional invention.
  • Support: For students who have difficulty understanding the concept of force and motion, use several classroom objects to demonstrate the difference between kinetic and potential energy.
  • Consider having the students create digital illustrations of observations they made during their experiments.
  • Have the students create electronic visuals of what could happen if they used different materials for their experiments.
(10 minutes)
  • Have all students complete an exit slip reflection on the experiments.
  • Lead the students in a group discussion describing what they learned from the project. Potential questions include: How fast did the ball go? Did the items that were heavier go faster? How does energy affect speed?
(5 minutes)
  • End the lesson with group reflections. Ask each group to share what they tested in their experiments and what they learned.
  • Ask clarifying questions and challenge other groups to also ask questions about the experiments.
  • Conclude the lesson by asking students what they learned about force and energy when observing various objects.

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