Lesson 1: What Is Energy?


Activity 1: Forms of Energy

There are many different forms of energy, as described in the reading. Talk to a parent about which option you should complete.
Help your child select one of the following options. For Option 1 he will illustrate each form of energy, and for Option 2 he will think of a way to demonstrate each form of energy.

Option 1: Illustrating Energy

Create your own graphic or illustration for each form of energy. Your images should be different from those found in the booklet.
For this option, check to see that your child has accurately illustrated each form of energy. Ask him to explain how he came up with his ideas. His images should be different than the ones in the booklet.

Option 2: Energy Demonstration

Think of a way to demonstrate each form of energy so that a person can better understand and remember it. Make notes about your ideas on the "Demonstrating Energy" activity pages. Then make a list of items you would need for your demonstration.

For example, to demonstrate nuclear energy, you could use small balls to represent protons and neutrons in the nucleus of an atom. For nuclear fission, split the nucleus into two parts. For nuclear fusion, start with two nuclei and combine them into a single nucleus. On the activity page, you might write the following:

"Balls represent protons and neutrons. Make two nuclei and push them together to show nuclear fusion. Make one nucleus and split it apart to show nuclear fission. Materials: 4-6 balls."

Use this example to help you design demonstrations for the remaining six forms of energy.
Review your child's demonstration ideas. If he would like to do any of the demonstrations, find a time during the day for him to do so. Provide feedback on the accuracy of his demonstrations.

Activity 2: Energy and Work

Materials: calculator
For this activity you will measure work. In the first two problems, you will use the w = f x d equation. For the third problem, you will use a variation of the same equation. Because you know the amount of work and the force, but not the distance, the formula will be rearranged to look like this: d = w ÷ f.

Ask your parent which option to complete.
Student Activity Page
Student Activity Page
Select one of the options for your child. The first option sets up the equations, while the second option requires the student to set up his own equations. Note that for simplicity these calculations assume friction is not a factor.

Answer Key:

  • Problem 1:
    W = 44.59 newtons × .75 meters
    W = 33.44 joules
  • Problem 2:
    W = 489.3 newtons × 8 meters
    W = 3914.4 joules
  • Problem 3:
    600 joules = 177.93 newtons × D
    D = 600 joules ÷ 177.93 newtons
    D = 3.37 meters

Activity 3: Doing Work

Materials: bags or cans of food, calculator, masking tape, meter stick or tape measure, scissors, string (kit)
Do something that requires a little work (such as putting away your shoes or setting the table), and then do something that requires a lot of work (like raking leaves or washing the floor). Was the force required different? Was the distance you moved the objects different? Whenever the distance or amount of force changes, the amount of work changes.

Find out how much work it takes to move different objects by completing the "Doing Work" activity page.
Student Activity Page
Student Activity Page
This activity begins by asking your child to experience the difference between an activity that requires a lot of work and an activity that requires a little bit of work. Activities that require a little bit of work might include dusting, folding laundry, setting the table, or putting shoes away. Activities that require a lot of work might include raking leaves, taking out trash, vacuuming, or washing the floor. Take time to discuss this activity and the activity page.

Your child may need assistance with the calculations as he completes the activity page. He can use a calculator. Answers will vary depending on the weights of the objects and the distance they are moved. Check that he has done the calculations correctly.

NOTE: The calculations on the activity page are simplified to assume that there was no friction and that your child applied the force in the same direction the object moved (as opposed to pulling at an angle).

Answer Key:

  1. When you moved the items the same distance which one took more work? Why? (the heavy item took more work because it took more newtons of force to move)
  2. When you moved the heavier item a shorter distance did it take more or less work than in the first trial? Why? (less work, because the distance was shorter)
  3. When you moved the lighter item a longer distance did it take more or less work than in the first trial? Why? (more work, because the distance was longer)
  4. Was the work used for both items closer to equal in the first trial or the second trial? Why? (Answers will vary depending on the difference between the number of newtons it takes to move each item, which your child calculated in Step 2. If there is a bigger difference in the values, then the amount of work will most likely be closer in Trial 2. He should see that this is because the amount of work to move the lighter object increased and the amount of work to move the heavier object decreased. If there is a smaller difference in the number of newtons required to move each object, he may find that the amount of work is actually closer when the two items are moved the same distance.)