Exploring Energy

Lesson Plan

Grade Level:

Grades 5-8

State Standards:

Massachusetts Curriculum Framework Physical Science 5-8: 13, Differentiate between potential and kinetic energy. Identify situations where kinetic energy is transformed into potential energy and vice versa.

Essential Question:

How do Newton's laws of motion describe and predict the motion of objects?

Lesson Question:

How is energy conserved?


You have just learned about the differences between Kinetic and Potential Energy. Through a Pendulum Experiment, you were able to identify at what points the pendulum experienced maximum Kinetic Energy and maximum Potential Energy. Now, you will learn about how the total energy of the system, or mechanical energy, is conserved.


You will create a bar graph demonstrating the conservation of energy of the pendulum experiment. Your task is to understand the difference between kinetic and potential energy, identify when the pendulum was experiencing the different forms of energy, and recognize that the total energy of the system was conserved throughout the entire experiment.

Lesson Experiences:

Day 1

Step #1. Day 1: Building on your knowledge of kinetic and potential energy, watch as a class a Prezi about mechanical energy.

Mechanical Energy Prezi

Step #2. Watch a Bill Nye the Science Guy Episode about Energy and answer Questions. The video will be watched as a class using a projector. You will receive questions prior to the start of the video, which you will answer individually in sequence with the video. Submit your answers for assessment.

Energy Part 1
Energy, Part 2
Energy, Part 3

Day 2

Step #3. Answer questions about kinetic and potential energy using an online worksheet that offers instant answers and percentage correct. Each of you will use an individual computer to complete the worksheet. You will tell the teacher his/her score at the end of the all questions.

Kinetic and Potential Energy Worksheet

Day 3 Step #3. Create a bar chart representing mechanical energy (sum of kinetic and potential energy) of the pendulum experiment).


Sample Bar Graph, KE and PE amount vary but TME or Total Mechanical Energy Remains the Same


Using your understanding of mechanical energy and the principal of conservation of energy, your bar graph should reflect that the sum remains the same, but the amount of kinetic and potential energy differ at different pendulum positions.


Now that you understand kinetic and potential energy, what other motion could you measure?



Students will be assessed through the Bill Nye video comprehension questions, the online worksheet, and their bar mechanical energy graphs.

You will be able to....






recall the difference between kinetic and potential energy (Bill Nye video questions

9-10 correct

7-8 correct

6 correct

5 or less correct


identify positions of maximum or minimum kinetic and potential energy

12-14 correct

10-11 correct

8-9 correct

7 or less correct


demonstrate the conservation of energy of the pendulum experiment

Identifies 100% max KE and PE and conservation correctly

Identifies 75%-99% max KE and PE and conservation correctly

Identifies 60-74% max KE and PE and conservation correctly

Identifies 50% or less max KE and PE and conservation correctly



Mechanical Energy Prezi

Swinging Pendulum Picture

Total Mechanical Energy Bar Graph

Non-Conservative and Energy Conserved Graph

Bill Nye Videos Parts 1-3 , ,

Kinetic and Potential Energy Interactive Worksheet kineticvspotentialenergy.htm

Image Credits: Swinging Pendulum Picture at