What I have discovered – Teaching about Energy


bKen Crawfordy:  Ken Crawford

As I mentioned in my last blog, I had the opportunity to get in on the ground floor of introducing a new teaching tool called the PowerWheel.  As a career social studies teacher and administrator, it has been a great experience to learn about a whole new area of academics…the teaching of energy and everything that goes along with it.

As we started to market the PowerWheel, one of the first things that we did was to bring together a group of teachers that represented all teaching levels…from the elementary to the post-secondary.  Many of these teachers were not science teachers…or had limited science backgrounds.  After giving them the chance to use the PowerWheel, we asked them, “How can we make the PowerWheel the most effective teaching tool it can be?”

PowerWheel pulleys Teaching about energy

Their answers were an eye-opener for us. It came down to variations on a single theme:  Before we can use the PowerWheel effectively, we need to understand energy ourselves…then we can teach our students. It turns out that one of the greatest fears or limitations that some of the teachers had was the lack of their own knowledge.  If given a chance to choose between a social studies lesson and a science lesson…they would choose the former…just because of comfort level.

From that moment on, we knew that we had an additional priority…help teach the teachers, and then effective learning about energy could take place. The PowerWheel is a great tool to help do this…easy to understand, and easy to use.

Here are three thoughts about teaching energy education in your classroom:

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Teaching Energy Using Dropper Poppers


Tami O'Connorby: Tami O’Connor

One of the units I enjoyed most as a middle school teacher was the section on energy.  The many awesome hands-on experiments generated such a series of oohs and aahs that it made my already-enjoyable days even more enjoyable!  One of my favorites was a lesson that dealt with the Law of Conservation of Energy.  A consequence of this law is that energy cannot be created, nor can it be destroyed.  (The students would have already explored potential and kinetic energy before the following activity.)

I initiated this lesson reviewing what happens with energy in a closed system.  The students clearly remembered comparing the amount of potential energy to kinetic energy using the example that the height of a roller coaster’s first hill is always greater than the height of any of the remaining hills.  It is, of course, possible to have a little hill followed by a higher hill as long as the roller coaster is going faster at the top of the little hill than the next higher one.  The students were generally able to explain the transfer of energy including heat energy and sound energy in the overall system.

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