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Here is a collection of activities for teaching energy.
heat energy
Posted by:kat #34160

I did a unit in the fall on energy and we did an experiment outside. Ahead of time I painted 2 two liter bottles--one white and one black. We placed a balloon over the neck of each one. I asked them to hypothosize which balloon would fill with more air. We recorded these results on a graph. We observed whether there was any difference with the amount of air in the balloon while it was inside. Then we put them both outside and recorded the appearance and the time. We checked them two hours later and again recorded the results. We waited another couple of hours and followed the same procedure. Then I gave them a sheet asking different questions about heat energy. (ex: would you rather have a dark or light colored car in the summer?) We also recorded any problems we encountered to make the experiment work...

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energy activity
Posted by:Julianne #35578

One fun activity for kids learning about sources of energy is to have them trace the energy from the point of use back to its original source. An example would be gasoline being traced back through crude oil to ancient fossilized materials to the energy from the sun that made that stuff grow. They can draw each step and explain it. It's a nice reminder that the vast majority of our energy here on earth comes from the sun in one way or another.

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Energy Lesson
Posted by:phantomteach #131345

This lesson is to teach "energy" You need a ruler, magnet,paperclip, rubber band, small rubber ball, a "popper"(rubber disk that you turn inside out, then it pops) and a "hotwheel" car.
You put these items in a baggie, and "energy bag"
Students work in small groups to find ways to make the car "go", in essence, to come up with different ways to produce energy. This lesson is from the Oklahoma Energy Resources Board, go to, it is from their Fossils to Fuel program.

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this is an introduction activity that we do and the kids love it!
Posted by:Kim #50064

We teach the forms of energy by teaching SCREAM. Take the time to introduce each form of energy by giving examples of each form.


Then I have a student play a "clucking chicken". It's a styrofoam cup with a tiny hole in the bottom. Put thread through the hole. Tie a paper clip to the thread so that it sits outside the cup. Use a wet paper towel to slide down the thread on the inside of the cup. It should squeak or cluck. If it doesn't make sense email me and I can send you a picture of it

Have the students try to tell you in order the energy used to play the clucking chicken. First thing that they notice is the sound. Then the sound was made by using...

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Posted by:Lisa in FL #12389

Hi Jennie,

I'm doing a unit on Light and Sound for 4th grade next month. We aren't getting into heat much. Here are some of the things that I'm doing for light:

*using prisms and a white sheet of paper to discover how white light breaks up into colors.(outside, & you need a sunny day) I'm trying to get one prism for each group of 4.

*shining light from a flashlight through different filters (colored cellophane in layers workds) onto colored construction paper to find out what colors it makes

*using rope to demonstrate a light wave's motion (energy waves are in our 4th grade state expectations, it's probably a little advanced for 3rd)

*learning translucent, transparent, and opaque using wax paper, plastic wrap, and aluminum foil

*experimenting with curved mirrors-- I have a little bendable...

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light and sound
Posted by:S. #67539

I use a student text book with some good ideas. Some things we do in fourth grade are:

light - flashlight and mirror experiments to see how light reflects, testing materials to determine whether they let light through (opaque, etc.), kaleidoscopes from film canisters and microscope slides

sound - make a simple tuned musical instrument with rubber bands (or could be more complex), getting everyone to hold a ruler over the desk edge a different length and then "playing" them in order to make a song (cool!!), using a tuning fork to show vibrations

When I taught eighth grade optics, we did other things that I can't recall TOO well, but I remember designing a floor plan for a funhouse with a cashier in the middle and say 10 arcade machines and you had to put mirrors in so that the cashier could see every exit and arcade machine....

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Posted by:Julianne #14855

One I've done with various age groups shows how light can be scattered as it hits particles such as pollution. Fill a large glass jar with water. Shine a bright flashlight through the water from one side. The light will appear white. Now add milk a few drops at a time and watch what happens to the light. You can look at it from the sides of the jar or straight on. The particles of milk separate the shorter blue and green light rays from the longer orange and red ones.

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Science from Literature
Posted by:Lori 2 #42179


That's a toughie, but I'll see if I can help. I'm not exactly sure what you are looking for and I can't think of all three grade levels off the top of my head for one topic, but maybe a bit of brainstorming will get some more ideas flowing for you. I also, am unsure of the meanings of your terms primary (k-3 -- ?), Middle (3-5?), Intermediate (6-8 ?). IF you could clarify those grade levels, it might help.


Maybe -- Yang the Youngest and His Terrible Ear by Lensey Namioka -- would work??

Following the music theme for sound -- Lentil by Robert McCloskey talks about learning to play the harmonica and how it sounds better at times -- you could experiment with covering the holes, too and show how it doesn't make a sound -- or use a whistle

If you can...

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we once...
Posted by:monicaw #116693

We got long tubes from Home Depot. They were the styrofoam tubes like you use to cover your pipes so they don't freeze. We cut them down one side so they were open. Then we used them to make roller coasters. The kids would use marbles and make them go up and down the hills. This showed potential (when they were stopped at the top of a hill) and kinetic (when they were moving) energy.

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Simple circuit
Posted by:Julianne #26082

I am guessing about some of this. I have never seen this done with a potato! But I have seen a simple circuit made with a break in the wire that can then be filled with different materials to see if they will conduct electricity. I think the idea of the potato is that it is moist, therefore it should conduct the electricity. Here's how I'd go about this:

1. Get bell wire, a 6 volt lantern battery, the kind with both posts on the top of the battery. These batteries are easier to mess with while still being pretty safe. Be sure you use a flashlight bulb, not a nightlight or other household bulb.

2. Run one piece of bell wire from one terminal of the battery to your bulb's SIDE. Tape or twist it in place.

3. Attach another piece of bell wire from the...

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bulletin board
Posted by:Julianne #14852

Ok, I think I've got a good one for you. Have each student draw a picture of his or her house and cut it out. Cut out a power station and put half the houses on one side of the board. Then use bell wire (telephone wire or other thin wire will do fine) to connect each house to the next showing a simple circuit. Now cut out another power plant and use the remaining houses in two rows to show a parallel circuit. Do this by having each house link to and from a pair of parallel wires that come down from the power plant. You can see a simple diagram of this in any elementary electricity book. Students can predict what would happen if someone cut a wire in each of the models. If you are handy you can build each of these models using a 6 volt lantern battery for the power...

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Energy unit
Posted by:Tracey #14869

Nicole, I am just rapping up my grade 5 energy unit and I must say it was a challenge. I started with a few lessons on some of the main forms of energy such as light, wind, water, mechanical, electric, etc. Once that was done we talked about renewable and non-reneweable energy and how energy is transformed from one type to another. When all was said and done I had them use all their info they (supposedly) learned to make up their own Pokemon or Digimon character. They had to draw their character and discuss what energy form it used for power and how it could transform its energy to continually meet its energy needs. I am sure you can imagine the stuff they came up with! Good luck.

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