Worksheets and lesson ideas to challenge students aged 11 to 16 to think hard about energy and power (GCSE and Key Stage 3)
This demonstration is an excellent way to begin thinking about energy transfers and stores. In some ways the demonstration appears to contradict the concept of energy conservation, with the tennis ball appearing to have ‘gained energy’. Of course this is not the case but careful questioning will unpick these ideas. Energy stores include kinetic, thermal, chemical, gravitational potential, elastic potential, electrostatic, magnetic and nuclear. Energy can be transferred (i.e when work is done) between stores in four main ways: mechanically, electrically, by heating and by radiation.
How should we teach energy?
It is interesting to note that the word energy does not appear anywhere is the primary programme of study for science. Energy is a very abstract concept that needs careful teaching. This is an excellent article written by Robin Millar looking at how we should approach the teaching of energy that will help.
How much energy is in food?
A great investigation to explore energy in food is available on the investigations page.
Calculating power and efficiency
GCSE worksheet to calculate power and efficiency for electrical devices. This activity asks students to use their prior knowledge to arrange a series of lights in order of power. Students then calculate the power of the lights to see if their predictions were correct. We then consider why two bulbs with different power ratings can produce the same amount of light; this leads on to a discussion of efficiency. (PDF)
Joule island is an imaginative way to get students to apply their knowledge of energy resources to a new context. You could easily adapt this activity and get students to build working models of the island, or perhaps ask students to present to the ‘island governor’ which two energy resources are the best to use and why. Click on the link for further resources to support with this lesson.