Lesson plan

Energy forms and transformation

Explore different forms of energy and energy transformations through a selection of activities.
Science content
Physics: Heat (3)
Physics: Energy forms, Conservation of Energy (1, 3, 4, 5)

Forms of energy to cover:
kinetic (or energy types that move) - mechanical/motion, light, sound, thermal, electrical
potential (or energy types that are stored) - gravitational potential, chemical, elastic, nuclear
See this image for a simple categorization of energy types: https://i.ytimg.com/vi/6KUP__MR4u8/maxresdefault.jpg

Optional interesting discussion (at the start of the lesson, or after an activity or two, or both):
Ask students 'What is energy?'. (A challenging question!)
The classic description: 'Energy is something that can do work', but this is not so helpful for students. A more understandable sentence is: 'Energy is something that can make things happen', or 'Energy is something carried by an object that lets it move or change in other ways', or 'Energy brings about changes in matter'. See the photo for ideas that older students can come up with.

Pick two or three activities for a lesson, brief descriptions below.
(my favourite are the Roller coaster, or Energy in devices paired with Jumping stick).

Sit in a circle and throw a bean bag to each other. Use the bean bag as a discussion tool: the student holding the bean bag can speak (similar to a talking stick).
The discussion can be specifically about types of energy - the bean bag has motion energy as it is moving. Motion energy is the energy in a moving object. Chemical energy in our hands is converted to motion energy.
The bean bag can be used as a tool to discuss what energy is.

Energy input and output in devices activity, to explore different kinds of energy transformation in familiar household devices. Include a discussion with how electrical energy is made from fossil fuels and renewable resources.

Make the jumping stick toy, to use as an example of transfer between elastic potential energy, motion and gravitational potential energy. Or a catapult has the same energy transformations.

An object can be launched into the air instead by chemical energy with the baking soda rocket demonstration.

Roller coaster has several energy transformations: gravitational potential, motion, sound and heat. (includesEnough for a whole lesson.)

Electric circuits show electrical energy converted to light and heat (as incandescent bulbs are used).
Adding motor free play converts electrical to motion energy.

Candle convection pinwheel - heat energy is transformed into motion energy, best following Heat convection demonstration to demonstrate heat convection.
Pinwheel for younger grades who can't use candles to see transfer of motion energy.

Candle chemistry: Chemical energy contained in the candle wax (the energy holding the particles of the wax together) transforms to heat and light energy energy during combustion.

Grades taught
Gr K
Gr 1
Gr 2
Gr 3
Gr 4
Gr 5
Gr 6
Gr 7