Hands-on Activity: Energy Conversions
Winner - 2009 Premier Curriculum Award for K-12 Engineering
Educational Standards :
Learning Objectives (Return to Contents)
After this activity, students should be able to:
Materials List (Return to Contents)
For the combustion demo:
Introduction/Motivation (Return to Contents)
Energy exists in many forms all around us. The development of our modern society has been accomplished because scientists and engineers have learned to capture some of that energy and transform it into ways to do useful work. The conversion of energy from a chunk of coal into steam and then into mechanical engines that could do heavy work was a critically important role of engineers in the 19th century that helped to start the industrial revolution. An engineer needs to know where to "find" energy resources and then how to convert them into forms that are more useful for all of the machines and gadgets we use in our daily lives.
The law of conservation of energy states: Energy can neither be created nor destroyed... But, it can be converted! (Relate back to the energy forms and energy flow diagrams discussed earlier. In some cases, the items had different starting and ending energy forms, so conversions were going on.) The truck was an example of chemical energy converted to mechanical and heat through the COMBUSTION of fuel.
Energy conversions are necessary when we desire a certain form or state of energy, perhaps heat for our homoes, when the only form available is different, perhaps chemical energy in fuel. Conversions are also useful for transporting energy to where it is needed. For example a hydropower plant may be miles from our homes, so how do we use its energy? We convert its mechanical energy (flowing water) to electric energy, which is easily transported to our home via wires, and then back to mechanical energy in our blenders.
(Next, conduct the combustion demo to illustrate how we can add conversion processes to our energy flow diagrams.)
Procedure (Return to Contents)
Before the Activity:
With the Students
After the Introduction:
Attachments (Return to Contents)
Assessment (Return to Contents)
Worksheet: Have students complete and turn in the activity worksheet and discussion questions. Review their answers to gauge their comprehension of the material.
Other Related Information (Return to Contents)
This activity was originally published by the Clarkson University K-12 Project Based Learning Partnership Program and may be accessed at http://www.clarkson.edu/highschool/k12/project/energysystems.html.
ContributorsSusan Powers, Jan DeWaters, and a number of Clarkson and St. Lawrence University students in the K-12 Project Based Learning Partnership Program
Copyright© 2013 by Regents of the University of Colorado; original © 2008 Clarkson University
Supporting Program (Return to Contents)Office of Educational Partnerships, Clarkson University, Potsdam, NY
Acknowledgements (Return to Contents)
This activity was developed under National Science Foundation grant nos. DUE 0428127 and DGE 0338216. However, these contents do not necessarily represent the policies of the National Science Foundation, and you should not assume endorsement by the federal government.