Physics

Potential and Kinetic Energy

State Standards:

Essential Question:

What is potential and kinetic energy and what are the differences between these two types of energy?

Lesson Question:

What are some real-life examples of potential and kinetic energy and how do they affect us?

Introduction:

This lesson plan involves lab investigations which are designed to help students develop an understanding of the physics of potential and kinetic energy. The teacher will display three items:

  1. an electric cord
  2. a can of Coke (or any carbonated soda)
  3. a picture of a person climbing up a ladder

The teacher explains that these three items have something in common. The teacher mediates a clasroom discussion as the students attempt to answer the question.

Task:

Students will work with a partner and will gather the following materials from the "resource materials desk":
For each student team:

  1. a yo-yo
  2. yo-yo worksheet
  3. rubber band
  4. puff ball
  5. safety glasses
  6. sling-shot worksheet

For the teacher:

  1. shoe box
  2. piece of wood
  3. battery
  4. spring
  5. slingshot (or rubber band)
  6. Potential and Kinetic written on a piece of paper
  7. whiteboard magnets

Lesson Experiences:

Since the teacher sets the stage for the investigation, I will begin the lesson by showing the class a shoe box. I will share that when I am not using my favorite basketball sneakers, I store them in a box so they will be in good shape when I need them. I will ask what other things are stored until they are ready to be used.

Ask the students if they know any examples of stored energy. Display some items includinga:

Potential and Kinetic Energy in a YoYo from ExplainThatStuff.com - cdn3.explainthatstuff.com/yoyoenergy.gif Initiate a discussion about how each item represents stored energy. This will lead into a discussion of potential energy and kinetic energy.

Conclusion:

Energy is part of our lives and students should now understand the differences between potential and kinetic energy and be able to give examples of each.

Assessments:

Assessments of understanding can be accomplished through written assessments (quizzes) or by having each group share their findings with the teacher and be graded accordingly.

Resources:

Internet Web searches and (Web 2.0) YouTube or TeacherTube videos designed to explain basic physics concepts.
Potential and Kinetic Energy video:



NOTE: This lab may seem simplistic to the casual reader but it would be suitable for my high school special education classes where physics concepts must be presented in a slower more concrete manner with plenty of hands on learning experiences.