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STEM ready

Energy’s Transforming Power

Driving or Multi-dimensional Question:

How can stored energy be converted into another form for practical use? What energy is undergoing transformations? What energy is being transferred/conserved? What evidence is there that the energy is being conserved in this system?

Unit Summary:

According to the Cross Cutting Concept for Energy and Matter, students will begin to recognize types of energy present in a system and understand how this energy can transfer between objects. Based on several days of lessons and Science and Engineering Practices, the students will create an evidence-based explanation for the relationships seen in the natural world and be able to identify evidence that supports other explanations. Explanations will be derived from the activities practiced in the course of the lessons as well as the culminating event regarding the student projects and presentations.

Hook Event:

Culminating Event:


Science Standards:

4.PS3.3 Describe how stored energy can be converted into another form for practical use.

Math Standards:

ELA and Other Standards:

4.FL.SC.6 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when speaking and conventions of standard English grammar and usage, including capitalization and punctuation when writing.

Daily Activities

For more information on this lesson please see the Lesson Resources below

DescriptionResources and Materials
Activity OnePing Pong  Shooters:
Students will create their own ping pong ball shooters to demonstrate the conversion of energy.

Ping Pong Shooter Video:

Ping Pong Shooter Materials:
• Plastic cups
• Ping-pong balls
• Scissors
• Tape
• Balloons

Activity TwoHoliday Light Circuit:
Students will create a circuit that will successfully light up a light bulb from a string of Christmas lights.


• String of Christmas lights
• Scissors or wire strippers
• Aluminum foil
• Brass fasteners
• Tape
• File folder

For More Details:

To Extend Learning, Consider Purchasing:

Activity ThreeWind-Powered LED:
Students will create and test a wind turbine to perform for practical use. The practical use will be tested through the lifting of washers.

Materials Needed/Class:
• Box fan
• Pencil sharpener
• One KidWind Mini Turbine Kit

Materials Needed/Team:
• Fan template
• Paper for taking notes
• Pencil or pen
• 2 corks
• Hot glue or thumbtacks

Windmill Blade Testing Device Materials:
• Half-gallon milk carton
• 1/4 inch by 1-foot dowel
• Small paper cup
• 1-foot string
• Scissors
• 2 metal washers

Materials That May Be Used for Making Turbines:
• 1 empty water bottle
• Other scrap materials (e.g., soda bottles) for making turbine blades
• 4 notecards, or cardstock
• 1-foot of tape
• 8 paper clips

Potential Field Trip Opportunity:
Dream Big film is currently playing in Memphis at the Pink Palace Museum. You can find more information here:

Activity Four

How Heat Works:
Students will see the effect that heat has on molecules and how that plays a part in thermal energy. 

S’more About Thermal Energy:
Students will create and design an oven that is energized by the sun’s heat.

Energy Resources Videos:

Materials—How Heat Works:
• 3 glass jars
• Tape (for labels)
• Water
• Food coloring

Scaredy Squirrel Goes Camping 

Materials—S’more About Thermal Energy:
• Graham crackers
• Marshmallows
• Chocolate
• Cardboard boxes
• Aluminum foil
• Plastic wrap
• Any other materials that you may want students to have to build their oven

Activity FiveSun Tea:
Students will help make Sun Tea to see how the sun’s energy can be transformed for practical use.

Energy Resources Videos:

• 1/2 gallon jar with a lid
• Tea bags
• Simple syrup
• Water


Comic Strip:
Students will create a comic strip to show their knowledge of how stored energy can be converted into another form for more practical use.

Students should use their experiences learned through the activities to influence their comic strip.*

*See sample rubric.

Technology Integration:

Business PartnerContribution to Learning ExperienceContact Information
Local ElectricianSpeak to students about how we use stored energy on a daily basis. 
Pizza RestaurantDonate cardboard boxes for the oven. 
ContractorSpeak to students about how people are using different forms of energy to build their homes. 

Capstone Presentation:

Students will work towards a project that meets the disciplinary core idea for this PBL lesson. Students will work independently to formulate a comic strip with illustrations and words that show their understanding of how stored energy can be converted into another form for more practical use. Students will be assessed using a rubric.

Lesson Resources