Quick Look
Grade Level: 11 (912)
Time Required: 3 hours 15 minutes
(4 classes of 50 minutes each)
Lesson Dependency:
Subject Areas: Physical Science, Physics, Science and Technology
NGSS Performance Expectations:
HSPS32 
Summary
This lesson focuses on the conservation of energy solely between gravitational potential energy and kinetic energy, moving students into the Research and Revise step. Students start out with a virtual laboratory, and then move into the notes and working of problems as a group. A few questions are given as homework. A set of associated activities focus on roller coasters to study the kinetic and potential energies found on the ride. The lesson is concluded in the Test Your Mettle phase of the Legacy Cycle.Engineering Connection
Engineers design solutions for our world. Engineers must first master the physical laws that rule our world before designing something that takes advantage of those laws. Different forms of energy are harnessed and used by many different types of engineers. The broader application of this lesson focuses on the transfer of energy within a vehicle and harnessing that energy so it is not lost.
Learning Objectives
After this lesson, students should be able to:
 Describe the types of mechanical energy.
 List the various forms of potential energy.
 Apply the conservation of energy to problems strictly between gravitational potential energy and kinetic energy.
 Explain why mechanical energy is not always conserved.
Educational Standards
Each TeachEngineering lesson or activity is correlated to one or more K12 science,
technology, engineering or math (STEM) educational standards.
All 100,000+ K12 STEM standards covered in TeachEngineering are collected, maintained and packaged by the Achievement Standards Network (ASN),
a project of D2L (www.achievementstandards.org).
In the ASN, standards are hierarchically structured: first by source; e.g., by state; within source by type; e.g., science or mathematics;
within type by subtype, then by grade, etc.
Each TeachEngineering lesson or activity is correlated to one or more K12 science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) educational standards.
All 100,000+ K12 STEM standards covered in TeachEngineering are collected, maintained and packaged by the Achievement Standards Network (ASN), a project of D2L (www.achievementstandards.org).
In the ASN, standards are hierarchically structured: first by source; e.g., by state; within source by type; e.g., science or mathematics; within type by subtype, then by grade, etc.
NGSS: Next Generation Science Standards  Science
NGSS Performance Expectation  

HSPS32. Develop and use models to illustrate that energy at the macroscopic scale can be accounted for as either motions of particles or energy stored in fields. (Grades 9  12) Do you agree with this alignment? 

Click to view other curriculum aligned to this Performance Expectation  
This lesson focuses on the following Three Dimensional Learning aspects of NGSS:  
Science & Engineering Practices  Disciplinary Core Ideas  Crosscutting Concepts 
Develop and use a model based on evidence to illustrate the relationships between systems or between components of a system. Alignment agreement: Ask questions that can be investigated within the scope of the classroom, outdoor environment, and museums and other public facilities with available resources and, when appropriate, frame a hypothesis based on observations and scientific principles.Alignment agreement:  Energy is a quantitative property of a system that depends on the motion and interactions of matter and radiation within that system. That there is a single quantity called energy is due to the fact that a system's total energy is conserved, even as, within the system, energy is continually transferred from one object to another and between its various possible forms. Alignment agreement: At the macroscopic scale, energy manifests itself in multiple ways, such as in motion, sound, light, and thermal energy.Alignment agreement:  Energy cannot be created or destroyed—it only moves between one place and another place, between objects and/or fields, or between systems. Alignment agreement: 
Common Core State Standards  Math

Rearrange formulas to highlight a quantity of interest, using the same reasoning as in solving equations.
(Grades
9 
12)
More Details
Do you agree with this alignment?

Reason quantitatively and use units to solve problems.
(Grades
9 
12)
More Details
Do you agree with this alignment?

Solve equations and inequalities in one variable
(Grades
9 
12)
More Details
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Solve linear equations and inequalities in one variable, including equations with coefficients represented by letters.
(Grades
9 
12)
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Do you agree with this alignment?
International Technology and Engineering Educators Association  Technology

Energy cannot be created nor destroyed; however, it can be converted from one form to another.
(Grades
9 
12)
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State Standards
Tennessee  Math

Reason quantitatively and use units to solve problems.
(Grades
9 
12)
More Details
Do you agree with this alignment?

Solve equations and inequalities in one variable
(Grades
9 
12)
More Details
Do you agree with this alignment?

Solve linear equations and inequalities in one variable, including equations with coefficients represented by letters.
(Grades
9 
12)
More Details
Do you agree with this alignment?

Rearrange formulas to highlight a quantity of interest, using the same reasoning as in solving equations.
(Grades
9 
12)
More Details
Do you agree with this alignment?
Tennessee  Science

Investigate the definitions of force, work, power, kinetic energy, and potential energy. [Force: F = ma; Work: W = Fd; Power: P = (FΔd) / Δt; Kinetic Energy: E_{K} = 0.5mv²; Potential Energy: E_{P} = mgΔh].
(Grades
9 
12)
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Analyze the characteristics of energy, and conservation of energy including friction, and gravitational potential energy.
(Grades
9 
12)
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Visit [www.teachengineering.org/lessons/view/van_hybrid_design_less2] to print or download.More Curriculum Like This
Students investigate potential energy held within springs (elastic potential energy) as part of the Research and Revise step. The lesson includes a dry lab that involves pogo sticks to solidify the concepts of spring potential energy, kinetic energy and gravitational energy, as well as conservation ...
High school students learn how engineers mathematically design roller coaster paths using the approach that a curved path can be approximated by a sequence of many short inclines. They apply basic calculus and the workenergy theorem for nonconservative forces to quantify the friction along a curve...
Students are introduced to both potential energy and kinetic energy as forms of mechanical energy. A handson activity demonstrates how potential energy can change into kinetic energy by swinging a pendulum, illustrating the concept of conservation of energy.
PreReq Knowledge
A working understanding of Newton's laws and flow charting. A firm understanding of how to use Microsoft Excel® or another spreadsheet program before attempting the dry lab (however, this can also be incorporated into the explanation of the lab).
Introduction/Motivation
Now that we have come up with a few ideas about the hybrid cars, we know that we need to know more about energy. So today we will learn about the two most basic types of energy and how they can be equated to each other. So, let's talk about energy (continue with lecture information provided in the Teacher Background section).
Lesson Background and Concepts for Teachers
Content Information
Pedagogically, make the first logical step in the conservation of energy between just two forms of mechanical energy. Typically, do this between kinetic energy, which is the energy of motion (KE = ½ mv^{2}), and gravitational potential energy, which is the energy of position (GPE = mgh). However, consider using other forms of energy (that is, thermal, chemical, nuclear, electric, electromagnetic, elastic potential energy and energy carried by longitudinal waves [typically in the form of sound waves or seismic waves]).
The conservation of energy states that the total energy at any two points in time for a close system. For basic purposes, the assumption that we always deal with a closed system can be taken.
E_{1} = E_{2} (1)
Here, we assume that the only forms of energy that can be dealt with are kinetic and gravitational potential energies.
KE_{1} + GPE_{1} = KE_{2} + GPE_{2} (2)
Expanding,
½ mv_{1} ^{2} + mgh_{1} = ½ mv _{2} ^{2} + mgh_{2}
Reducing,
½ v_{1} ^{2} + gh_{1} = ½ v_{2} ^{2 }+ gh_{2} (3)
Therefore, we see that (3) is true regardless of the mass of the object. To start out, problems should be solely KE at one point and GPE at the other. This also requires careful placement of your ground level. So (3) can reduce to:
gh_{1} = ½ v_{2} ^{2} (4)
Only after a few problems, should the case in which we have to include other terms to have (3) be true should be attempted. Just before the second associated activity Energy on a Roller Coaster should the concept of adding other forms of energy be discussed and the law of Conservation of Energy always be expressed as in (1).
Lecture Information
Write the word "energy" on the classroom board. List some of the reasons (from the last lesson) that relate to conservation of energy, and ask: What are some of the forms of energy? Expect students to give answers such as "solar' or "wind," but steer them into the actual names of the forms of energy. Flow chart these responses on the board (which also serves as a leadin for a later lesson). Circle kinetic and gravitational potential energy, and tell them these two are our focus first.
Choose two student volunteers (pick two who are friends) and pick two lightweight objects from the classroom such as a sponge and a plastic water bottle. Ask the class: Which object will transfer more energy (hurt more) if thrown at a person at the same speed? Listen to the class answers and have the volunteers throw/receive the objects to confirm (this is why friends are chosen). Write on the board that KE a mass. Then, ask the class: Which transfers more kinetic energy (hurts more), an object thrown at low speed or the same object at a higher speed? The class answers and the volunteers test and confirm (again, it helps if they are friends in order to avoid any serious throwing). Then place velocity into the equation to have "KE a mv." Next, explain that KE is proportional to the square of velocity and that a constant is associated with KE. Then place the ½ and the square into the equation and replace "a" with "=" to have "KE = ½ mv^{2}."
Next, determine the equation for gravitational potential energy. Pick two objects from around the room, but this time make sure they have a larger difference in mass (for example, a sponge and the CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics). Remind students about the storage of mechanical energy. Ask the class: Which object has more energy stored in it if held at the same height. Expect many to answer correctly, and some to not be sure. Explain that we can tell from dropping them and seeing which transfers the most energy to the floor. One way to determine which transfers the most energy is by the loudness of the impact. Expect them to immediately determine the answer, but demonstrate anyway. Then, write on the board, "GPE a m." Ask: Which one has more stored energy, a book at 1 m from the floor or 2 m from the floor? Demonstrate this. Then include height in the equation for "GPE a mh." Remind students that the attraction of the object to the ground is also determined by something else. Wait until students determine that it must be gravity. Then include g and substitute "=" for "a" for "GPE = mgh.
For further background on the physcis presented in this lesson, select the lecture 11 video at: https://archive.org/details/MITclassical_mech. Optionally, you could show students clips from this video, or if you feel appropriate, show students the entire lecture.
At this point, have students conduct the Energy Skate Park associated activity. Assign finishing the virtual lab as homework.
Then work on the classroom board several problems from the text on the conservation of energy between these two forms of energy. Inform students about the reallife presence of friction, as well as what friction does. Next, have students conduct the Energy on a Roller Coaster associated activity.
Associated Activities
 Energy Skate Park  Using an online simulation set at a skate park, students make graph predictions before using the virtual laboratory to create graphs of energy vs. time under different conditions. Students' comprehension of potential and kinetic energy and conservation of energy is strengthened as they predict behavior based on their understanding of these energy concepts and experimentation with the simulation.
 Energy on a Roller Coaster  Students use a roller coaster track to collect position data. They calculate velocity and energy data, and then relate the conversion of potential and kinetic energy to the conversion of energy used in a hybrid car, learning about energy lost to friction.
Vocabulary/Definitions
conservation of energy: The total amount of energy within a closed system is equal at any two points in time.
friction: Transfer of energy from mechanical energy into other forms.
gravitational potential energy: Energy stored due to position in the vertical dimension.
kinetic energy: Energy of motion.
potential energy: Energy that is stored.
Assessment
Informal Assessment: While doing problems with the class, make sure to only do the first problem for them. Then solve another with help from the class. Have students individually solve all additional problems, with individual help from the teacher and other students who have had their work checked by the teacher.
Lab Reports: Evaluate student lab reports from the virtual lab and dry lab. Have the reports be in a format that the teacher is comfortable with, but that also allows for the checking of the understanding of the concepts by students.
Quiz: At lesson end and after both associated activities have been conducted, administer the Conservation of Energy Quiz. Review student answers to gauge their depth of comprehension.
Copyright
© 2013 by Regents of the University of Colorado; original © 2006 Vanderbilt UniversityContributors
Joel Daniel (funded by the NSFfunded Center for Compact and Efficient Fluid Power at the University of Minnesota); Megan JohnstonSupporting Program
VU Bioengineering RET Program, School of Engineering, Vanderbilt UniversityAcknowledgements
The contents of this digital library curriculum were developed under National Science Foundation RET grant nos. 0338092 and 0742871. However, these contents do not necessarily represent the policies of the NSF, and you should not assume endorsement by the federal government.
Last modified: May 9, 2021
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