Science in Focus: Energy
Understanding the concept of energy is crucial to the comprehension of many ideas in physical science, Earth and space science, and life science. The video programs, print guide, and Web site of this workshop for elementary school teachers provide a solid foundation, enabling you to distinguish between the way “energy” is commonly understood and its meaning in science. Examine energy’s role in motion, machines, food, the human body, and the universe as a whole. Learn how energy can be converted from one form to another and transferred over space and time. And explore the notion of “conservation of energy” — the idea that energy can neither be created nor destroyed.
1. What Is Energy?—Interviews about energy with children, scientists, and people on the street reveal the wide range of concepts that teachers encounter. In this session, you will look at the differences between the everyday language of energy and the scientific concept, see highlights of its history, and learn its importance in our understanding of the world.
2. Force and Work—Scientists define energy as the ability to do work. In this session, see how work is defined in physics and examine how energy and work are related.
3. Transfer and Conversion of Energy—Change happens when energy is transferred or converted. In this session, examine conversion between potential and kinetic energy. Through examples, see how events that involve a small amount of energy can trigger much larger events.
4. Energy in Cycles—Energy can be seen in cycles every day, from the bouncing of balls to the swinging of pendulums. In this session, further explore the relationship between kinetic and potential energy to understand how cycles begin and are sustained, and why they decay.
5. Energy in Food—All life forms use energy. In this session, explore the transfer and conversion of the potential energy in food, and see how that energy is stored. Through animations, witness photosynthesis, the process by which plant cells capture the ultimate energy source for all food — sunlight.
6. 6. Energy and Systems Physicists use the concept of a system to trace and quantify the flow of energy. In this session, take a close look at a number of energy systems and see how this concept is closely linked to the Law of Conservation of Energy.
7. Heat, Work, and Efficiency—A machine’s energy output cannot be greater than its input. In this session, look at the energy that goes into useful work, examine how some always ends up as heat, and see why systems are never 100% efficient.
8. Understanding Energy—Energy lights our homes, fuels our transportation systems, and much more, but affordable energy is in limited supply. In this session, look at the global impact of these limits and see how being smart about using energy will become more important in our daily lives.
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