SMelissa Kempton

Touro College


EDU 606


Science Lessons

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                             Science: Kinetic and Potential Energy       


Standard 1


- develop explanations of natural phenomena in a continuing, creative process.

- test proposed explanations involving the use of conventional  techniques and procedures and usually requiring considerable ingenuity.

- observe and test proposed explanations, to analyze and invent methods, and provide new insights into phenomena.

Standard 3

- students use mathematical modeling/multiple representation to provide a means of presenting, interpreting, communication, and connecting mathematical information and relationships.

Standard 4

- the Earth and celestial phenomena can be described by principles of relative motion and perspective.

Standard 6

- Models are simplified representations of objects, structures, or systems used in analysis, explanation, interpretation, or design.- Identifying patterns of change is necessary for making predictios about future behavior and conditions.

Standard 7

- The knowledge and skills of mathematics, science, and technology are used together to make informed decisions and solve problems, especially those relating to issues of science/theology/society, consumer decision making, design, and inquiry into phenomena. 

Content to be Covered:


- identify what kinetic and potential energy is.

- understand what gravitational potential energy is.

- understand how potential energy can be converted into kinetic energy.


6 different types of balls

 - golf ball

 - tennis ball

 - basketball

 -bouncy ball

 -ping pong ball

 - softball

6 yard sticks/measurement strips

Toy car

Wood ramp


6 photocopies of graph

6 photocopies of focus phase

Management Plan:

To engage the students in this lesson, I will begin with an experiment using a toy car, wood ramp, and books to hold up the ramp.  I will be performing the experiment and I will have all of the students surrounding me.  I will choose one student to time keep for me, using a stopwatch.  After this experiment is finished, I will then have the students go back to their seats, in their groups.  I will then hand out a small survey and ask the students what they think of each situation.  At that time, I will introduce to them Kinetic and Potential Energy.  This introduction will be about 5 minutes. 

I will hand out the balls to use them for their own experiment.  They will be in their groups while performing these experiments.  I will be sure to hold the class to a maximum volume.   These two experiments will be about 7 minutes. 

After, they will remain seated and we will discuss the conclusion of our lesson and what they have learned.  I will answer any questions and concerns the children may have. This conclusion should take up the remaining 3 minutes.

Activities and Procedures:

Introduction Activities:

The introduction to the lesson will begin with having the students gather around me.  I will then choose one student to time keep when the car starts and when the car stops.  I will perform an experiment using a toy car, wood ramp, and books to hold the ramp.  I will start the car at the top of the wood ramp, with a mild slope and observe how the car goes down the ramp, particularly its speed and distance.  Then I will ask students what they observed, asking probing questions.  Then I repeat the experiment raising the wood ramp to a higher slope.  After they observe for the second time, I will once again ask the students what they have observed, and then ask what the differences or similarities of the two experiments were.


1- How does the height of the incline plane affect the speed of the car at the bottom of the ramp?

2- How does the height of the incline plane affect the distance that the car travels from the ramp?

3- What relationship is there between speed at the base of the ramp and the distance the car travels?

4- If a mass of clay is placed on top of the car, how does the increased weight affect how far the car will travel?

I will then have the students go back to their seats.  I will introduce kinetic and potential energy at that time, and explain some properties of both and what the difference between the two were, and how it worked with the car and the ramp.  I will then hand out a survey containing different situations of kinetic and potential energy for the children to look at and think about.  They will discuss among their groups what they think will happen in each of the situations of the sheet.


1- The property of the toy car which determines how far it will roll is called energy of motion or kinetic energy. 

2- The greater the object’s speed, the greater its kinetic energy

3- Work, moving a mass over a distance, was required to get the toy car to the top of the ramp…the toy car as it sits on the top of the ramp has Potential Energy.

4- Potential energy of the car is equal to the mass of the car and the height to which it was raised.

5- When car starts to roll down ramp, potential energy is converted into kinetic energy.

6- The car has the most potential energy at the top of the ramp.

7- It has the last kinetic energy at the beginning of its roll and most at the end.

Development Activities:

Focus questions:

1- Do some types of balls convert more potential energy into kinetic energy?

2- Which ball will bounce the highest? The least?

3- What properties of the ball do you think will cause some balls to bounce higher?

Challenge the students to determine how high each ball will drop.  Have students in each group to drop each ball at least twice and record the average height of the ball’s bounce.

Other probing questions:

1- Do hollow balls bounce higher than solid balls?

2- Do rubber balls bounce higher than plastic balls?

3- Do small balls bounce higher than large balls?

4- Do smooth surface balls bounce higher than rough surfaced balls?

5- What are the properties of a  good bouncer?

6- What properties prevent a ball from being a good bouncer?

After they have experimented with these balls, ask probing questions to keep the students focused and to encourage thinking.  Then explain to them how at a given height, the potential energy each ball contains is equal to the work needed to get the ball to that height.  The higher the ball’s position, the more work needed to get it to that position, the more potential energy the ball contains.  The ball that bounces the highest is that which is able to convert the most potential energy into kinetic energy.  Some potential energy is converted into heat energy of friction resulting from air resistance on the ball and contact of the ball with the floor, so there is less potential energy converted into kinetic energy.

For another reinforcer, have the students choose one ball to experiment with.  Drop this ball from heights of six, four, and two feet.  Observe how high the ball bounces on each drop.  Repeat and take the average.  Then construct a bar graph of your results.  What relationship can be made between the height of the drop and how high the ball bounced? Have students predict the heights of 3 and 5 feet according to their graphs.

Concluding Activities:

Go over the survey sheet you handed out and have the groups once again answer the questions.  See if anyone changed their minds, and ask them why they did.  Ask students other probing questions about what the lesson.  Have the entire class participate in the concluding party of the lesson.  Ask students if they can identify any other related topics of potential and kinetic energy and if they can give examples, such as cars, divers, or trampoline jumping.

Methods of Evaluation:

 Have students individually draw a picture of an example they can use to show potential and kinetic energy.  Then have them explain their drawing to prove how this example shows this energy, and its conversion from potential energy to kinetic energy.  You can get creative and have the students show when the object has the most potential energy, and the least.  And have then show the point with the greatest kinetic energy, and the least.