NMHS science teacher Ms Tahreen Chowdhury taught the work-energy unit through investigative science learning process. The students started off the unit smashing pieces of chalk using different methods such as a wood block, rolling cart and sling shot. From this activity students developed the idea that a system of objects can have different types of chalk smashing ability based on their location, speed, and stretch/compressibility.
Image credit: http://www.vrml.k12.la.us/1st/homework/science/science1un3.htm
Once the students related all the experiments to an objects’ ability to do something (i.e. smash chalk or make the touching surfaces of two objects in a system warm), Ms Chowdhury introduced their scientific terms of gravitational potential energy, kinetic energy, spring/elastic energy, and internal energy. Ms Chowdhury encouraged the students to develop their own names for these energies so they internalize the meaning better. Some of the names that the students developed were Apollo (gravitational potential energy), Sonic (kinetic energy), Elastigirl (spring/elastic energy), and Charmandar (internal energy).
Then with the students assisting, Ms Chowdhury introduced the equations that represent each of the energies and took them through activities that helped the students developed the work-energy conservation theorem. To top it all off, Ms Chowdhury had a roller coaster building project for the students. Their task was to build a roller coaster for a marble with one loop and two humps; they were also required to utilize their knowledge of work-energy to find the speed of the marble at any three locations on the track. The students put together Prezi presentations that walk viewers through the building process and how the concept of energy is related to building a functioning roller coaster.
cross-posted on A Principal's Reflections
Eric Sheninger is a NASSP Digital Principal Award winner (2012), PDK Emerging Leader Award recipient (2012), winner of Learning Forward's Excellence in Professional Practice Award (2012) and co-author of Communicating and Connecting With Social Media: Essentials for Principals and What Principals Need to Know About Teaching and Learning Science. He presents and speaks nationally to assist other school leaders in effectively using technology. His blog, A Principal's Reflections, was selected as Best School Administrator Blog in 2011 by Edublogs.