STEM ready

Exploring Energy

Driving or Multi-dimensional Question:

How can we use thermochemistry principles to create emergency meals for refugees, soldiers and/or those displaced by natural disasters? Students will conduct investigations and analyze data to discover how energy transfer occurs within closed systems in order to better understand that energy cannot be created or destroyed, it only moves between objects, fields and/or systems.

Unit Summary:

In this PBL, students will explore the science behind thermochemistry and how energy can be harnessed to create emergency meals for refugees, soldiers and/or those displaced by natural disasters (emergency preparedness). Students will discover how “meals ready to eat” (MREs) work, then brainstorm and construct their own MREs using specific chemicals. Students will also explore how ratios can be used to generate specific amounts of heat. Students will share their findings and the importance of using thermochemistry to solve problems with their peers.

Hook Event:

Culminating Event:


Science Standards:

1. Identify and give examples of the various forms of energy (kinetic, gravitational potential, elastic potential) and solve mathematical problems regarding the work-energy theorem and power.
2. Plan and conduct an investigation to provide evidence that thermal energy will move as heat between objects of two different temperatures, resulting in a more uniform energy distribution (temperature) among the objects.
5. Investigate the relationships among kinetic, potential and total energy within a closed system (the law of conservation of energy).
7. Demonstrate Ohm’s Law through the design and construction of simple series and parallel circuits.
9. Demonstrate the impact of the starting amounts of radioactive substances upon the energy released.

PCSI.PS2 Motion and Stability Forces and Interactions.
7. Plan and conduct an investigation to provide evidence that an electric current can produce a magnetic field.

Math Standards:

ELA and Other Standards:

EVSC.ETS2 Links among engineering, technology, science and society.

Engage in argument from evidence on the role engineering and technology play in a sustainable human society.

Daily Activities

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

 ActivitiesResources and Materials
Activity One

What is Energy?
• Picture Analysis: No Electricity
• Watch the Video: What is Energy?

Explore Different Forms of Energy

Photo Attachment

Video: What Is Energy?;_ylt=AwrJzAizFkBbkkYALuQPxQt.?p=what+is+energy&fr=yhs-SGMedia-sgmedia_maps&fr2=piv-web&hspart=SGMedia&hsimp=yhs-sgmedia_maps&type=ff_s_mtd#id=14&vid=86a441042bc005a12d1fb2b3d12a490e&action=view

Energy Stations PowerPoint


Day Two

Laws of Conservation of Matter and Energy

Make/Burn a Candle

Candle Burning Video:;_ylt=AwrJzB9PxTpbcjEA8qwPxQt.?p=candle+burning&fr=yhs-SGMedia-sgmedia_maps&fr2=piv-web&hspart=SGMedia&hsimp=yhs-sgmedia_maps&type=ff_s_mtd#id=6&vid=d8080b2a4c8f8f383ffed4bbac10301f&action=view

Making a Soy Candle Video:

Activity Three

Chemical Energy:
• Create a Cold Pack
• Create Instant Light

Energy Study:
Research how electricity was discovered by looking at Edison and Tesla (DC vs. AC electrical current)

Instant Cold and Hot Packs:

Instant Light:

Instant Light Materials:
• Luminol, 0.2 g
• Potassium  ferricyaanide, 4 g
• Clorox 2
• Beakers, 400 ml, 2 or 3
• Magnetic stirrer and stir bar
• Distilled or deionized water

The Difference Between AC and DC Current Video:

Activity Four

• Conduct thermochemistry experiment
• Learn how flameless ration heaters (FRHs) and MREs work



Thermochemistry Experiment Materials:
• Temperature probes
• 250 ml beakers
• Balance (sensitivity to nearest 0.1 g)
• Weighing paper
• Ammonium chloride
• Graduated cylinder
• 400 ml beakers
• Chemical scoops
• Calcium chloride
• 8 oz. foam cups

Purchase Materials:

Flameless Ration Heaters:
• Materials
• Video

How MREs Work:

Activity Five

Electricity and Energy Storage:
Design and Build a Potato Battery

 Potato Battery Materials:
• 9v battery (for teacher demo)
• Black wires with alligator clips
• Red wires with alligator clips
• Zinc metal strip
• Copper metal strip
• Magnesium ribbon
• 1. v red LEDs
• Potatoes
• Voltmeter
• Trays
• Sandpaper

Purchase Materials:

Activity Six

• Charging My Batteries
• Design a Simple Electromagnet or Motor
•  Battery Dilemma

Simple Battery:
Design a simple battery using potatoes or lemons, and determine voltage output. Then make it into an electromagnet.

Appliance Timeline:
Students will create a timeline of a major appliance and describe how it changed the quality of life.

Design a Simple Electromagnet/Motor:;_ylt=AwrEg6f15DpbOksAvyQPxQt.;_ylu=X3oDMTByMjB0aG5zBGNvbG8DYmYxBHBvcwMxBHZ0aWQDBHNlYwNzYw–?p=simple+motor&fr=yhs-SGMedia-sgmedia_maps&hspart=SGMedia&hsimp=yhs-sgmedia_maps

• Iron nail
• Insulated wire
• Wire strippers or scissors
• Battery holder
• Alligator clips
• Magnetic items
• 6 v lantern battery

Purchase Materials:

Technology Integration:

Business PartnerContribution to Learning ExperienceContact Information


AEP (Appalachian Power)


Funds to purchase alternative energy STEM kits

Ginny Harper


Your Local Power Company

Funds to purchase alternative energy STEM kits; local resource for career and data information.


Carolina Biological

STEM kits for alternative energy


FlinnActivities found online and in A Demo a Day activities books—a-year-of-chemical-demonstrations/ap8852/

Capstone Presentation:

Students will share their investigation findings and the importance of using thermochemistry principles to solve problems. Student teams will develop a mixed-media presentation explaining how they worked to develop a unique MRE using thermochemistry principles.

If there is an ROTC course provided at your school, students could tailor their presentations specifically to those students and instructors representing branches of the armed forces.

Lesson Resources