Curriculum Access System
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http://cases-soe.web.itd.umich.edu/

How does electricity make things work?
(a 6-8 Electricity and Energy unit)
Author: CASES Team
Modified by:

unit overview

This is a middle school unit on electricity and energy. The unit starts by having students explore the science of static and current electricity, including circuits. Students then explore the properties of magnets and the relationship between current electricity and magnets. The unit ends by having students explore common energy transformations.

table of contents

unit calendar

Week 1 : Where is electricity around us?

Lessons

Static Electricity

Simple Circuits

It is important to start the unit by introducing the driving question. You may want to post it prominently in the classroom and refer to it throughout the unit to focus students' thinking. You may want to have students write their initial thoughts about the driving question in their science journals.

It is also important to introduce the week's subquestion, Where is the electricity around us? Students will explore this question by examining two types of electricity, static and current. It is important for students to understand the science behind these as well as the examples of these around us.
Week 2 : How do I turn on the light?

Lessons

Series and Parallel Circuits

Conductors

Students build on their understanding of current electricity and simple circuits from the previous week. They build both series and parallel circuits in order to learn the similarities and differences between the two. In addition, they design an investigation to test different materials to determine whether or not these materials can conduct electricity. These lessons can be done in any order.
Week 3 : How can I use electricity to make a magnet?

Lessons

Magnets

Electromagnets

This week students first learn about magnets by performing experiments on their properties. They then use their knowledge of magnets and electricity to create an electromagnet. Once the electromagnet is created, students will perform investigations to test how different variables affect the strength of the electromagnet.
Week 4 : How do I get energy to work for me?

Lessons

Energy Transformations

This week students learn about the different energy transformations that exist in the world around us. Students will learn about the different energy forms and then work in groups to research the energy transformations involved in the device of their choice.

worksheets

Note that these worksheets are not automatically included in this packet. To retreive and print them, click on each of these links.

Week 1 : Where is electricity around us?
(no worksheets for this week)
Week 2 : How do I turn on the light?

From the lesson plan: Series and Parallel Circuits

Optional:

Circuit Symbols.

Circuit Diagrams

From the lesson plan: Conductors

Conductor Worksheet
Week 3 : How can I use electricity to make a magnet?

From the lesson plan: Magnets

Magnetic Attraction Worksheet

Magnetic Attraction Through Objects

From the lesson plan: Electromagnets

Electromagnetism Worksheet One

Electromagnetism Worksheet Two
Week 4 : How do I get energy to work for me?
(no worksheets for this week)

summary of materials needed for this unit

Week 1 : Where is electricity around us?
Materials needed for the lesson: Simple Circuits
Per group:
  • one D cell battery
  • two insulated copper wires
  • one battery holder
  • two brass battery clips
  • one bulb
Optional:
  • switch
  • non-conductors

Week 2 : How do I turn on the light?
Materials needed for the lesson: Conductors
Various materials for groups to use including rubber bands, paper clips, aluminum foil, plastic bag, wood pencil, penny, nail, and eraser.

Week 3 : How can I use electricity to make a magnet?
Materials needed for the lesson: Magnets
  • Examples of commonly used magnets such as refrigerator or toys with magnets (optional)
  • Iron filings
  • Variety of objects (such as iron nail, aluminum nail, wood chip, plastic game piece, straw, aluminum foil, paper clip, button, coins, copper wire)
  • Baggies for above materials
  • Objects to "block" the magnetic force such as a paper plate, plastic margarine tub, playing card, piece of cardboard, magazine, and a plastic lid
  • Paper clips

Materials needed for the lesson: Electromagnets
Per group:
  • iron nail
  • several small paper clips
  • flexible insulated wire
  • scissors
  • rubber band
  • c or d battery

Week 4 : How do I get energy to work for me?
 
unit assessment
Materials needed for the lesson: Assessment
Materials to make a poster or other visual aid.

driving question

How does electricity make things work?

What is a driving question?

This unit addresses the following subquestions:

Why are these good questions?

Feasibility
Students are able design and perform investigations to answer the driving question as well as subquestions. For example, in the Electromagnets Lesson Plan students build electromagnets and then design investigations to test how different variables affect the strength of these electromagnets.
Worth
This unit is aligned with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) benchmarks and the state of Michigan science standards. It deals with rich science content and science processes such as making observations and asking questions.
Contextualization
This unit is anchored in the real lives of students. They examine classroom animals in order to draw conclusions about animals in general.
Meaning
Students should be naturally curious to answer the driving question and subquestions. Middle school-aged students often have a wide variety of questions about electricity and magnets!
Sustainability
There are a number of inquiry-oriented investigations contained in this unit. Some of these are one lesson while others extend over longer periods of time.
Ethics
All of the lessons contained within this unit are ethical.

What is a driving question?
A driving question is a question that is elaborated, explored, and answered by the students and the teacher. The driving question encourages students to link together different topic areas and apply knowledge in real-world settings. To use a driving question, you could:

standards

This unit is aligned with AAAS Benchmarks (http://www.project2061.org/tools/benchol/bolframe.htm) for grades 6-8

AAAS Benchmarks
1B If more than one variable changes at the same time in an experiment, the outcome of the experiment may not be clearly attributable to any one of the variables. It may not always be possible to prevent outside variables from influencing the outcome of an investigation (or even to identify all of the variables), but collaboration among investigators can often lead to research designs that are able to deal with such situations.
1C Accurate record-keeping, openness, and replication are essential for maintaining an investigator's credibility with other scientists and society.
1C Computers have become invaluable in science because they speed up and extend people's ability to collect, store, compile, and analyze data, prepare research reports, and share data and ideas with investigators all over the world.
4E Energy cannot be created or destroyed, but only changed from one form into another.
4E Most of what goes on in the universe█from exploding stars and biological growth to the operation of machines and the motion of people involves some form of energy being transformed into another. Energy in the form of heat is almost always one of the products of an energy transformation.
4E Energy appears in different forms. Heat energy is in the disorderly motion of molecules; chemical energy is in the arrangement of atoms; mechanical energy is in moving bodies or in elastically distorted shapes; gravitational energy is in the separation of mutually attracting masses.
4G Electric currents and magnets can exert a force on each other.

science background

This page compiles discussions of the science content covered in this unit. See the content section in each lesson plan for more specific science content. Note that the explanations provided here are typically in more depth than the level of understanding you would expect from your students.

How do I turn on the light?
Like the previous week, the science behind this week involves the parts of an atom. For a discussion of atoms, see week one.

How and why does a light bulb light? The reason is because of current electricity. This is different from static electricity. Current electricity appears when the negative charges within matter flow through the positive charges. There must be a circuit for the electrons to flow through.

Circuits are typically separated into three categories -simple, series, and parallel.

Simple circuits have the minimum things needed to create a functioning circuit. A simple circuit has a source of the electricity, a conductive path, and a resistor. A resistor is anything that uses electricity to do work. Typical resistors include a light bulb, buzzer, and motor.

Series circuits are very similar to simple circuits but they have more than one resistor. If there is a break anywhere along the path, the flow of electrons stops and the entire circuit is disabled. The brightness of lightbulbs in a series circuit decreases when more bulbs are added.

In a parallel circuit, there is more than one path for the electrons to follow. In other words, branches are formed that provide separate paths for the flow of electrons. Because of this, a break in one of the pathways does not interrupt the flow in the other paths. A bulb will remain lit in a parallel circuit even though another bulb may be out. When bulbs are added to a parallel circuit

Links:
Simple Circuit Animation (http://regentsprep.org/Regents/ physics/phys03/bsimplcir/default.htm)

Where is electricity around us?
Electricity is such an integrated part of our daily lives that we often take it for granted. The two types of electricity students will be learning about in this unit are static electricity and current electricity.

Static electricity is responsible for many of the phenomena we see around us. Static electricity causes our socks to stick to one another after they come out of the dryer, our hair to stand up after we take off a wool hat, and a balloon to stick to the wall after it is rubbed. Current electricity lights up our homes, powers our alarm clocks, and allows our video game machines and television sets to run.

The key particle of matter behind both static and current electricity is electrons. Everything around us is made up of atoms. Atoms are made of protons, neutrons, and electrons. Both protons and neutrons have a basic property called a "charge." Electrons have a negative charge while protons are positively charged. Like charges repel one another while opposite charges attract one another. An electric field exists around charge particles. An electric field is an area over which an electric charge exerts a force. When one charged particle moves into the electric field of another charged particle, they are either attracted to one another or repel one another depending on their charges.

Why does static electricity exist? Static electricity is caused by the attraction between positive and negative charges. For example, when a balloon rubs against hair, it picks up electrons giving it an overall negative charge. When the balloon (with its overall negative charge) is held near a neutral object such as a wall, the charges in that object move. Because like charges repel, the electrons in the wall move as far away from the balloon as possible. Thus, there are more positive charges closer to the negatively charged balloon. Because opposites attract, the balloon and wall attract one another.

Why does current electricity exist? Electrons can be made to move from one atom to another. When the electrons move among the matter, a current of electricity is produced. The electrons move from one atom to another in a flow - one electron is attached and another electron is lost.

Current electricity must have a circuit to flow through. Circuits are typically separated into three categories -simple, series, and parallel. Series and parallel circuits are discussed in the following week.

Simple circuits have the minimum things needed to create a functioning circuit. A simple circuit has a source of the electricity, a conductive path, and a resistor. A resistor is anything that uses electricity to do work. Typical resistors include a light bulb, buzzer, and motor.

A switch is a device that allows the flow of electrons or stops the flow. When the switch is open, the is no flow, because there is a gap in the conductor. When the switch is closed, the switch becomes the 'gap replacement' and allows the flow of electrons to continue.
How can I use electricity to make a magnet?
There is a relationship between electricity and magnetism. When electricity flows through a wire, a magnetic field around that wire is produced. If you put a wire around a nail it can become magnetized. While a nail does not typically have magnetic properties (as evidenced by its normal inability to attract paper clips), it can become a temporary magnet when it is placed near an electric current. How can this happen? The nail becomes magnetized because the magnetic field in which it was placed (caused by the electric current) causes groups of atoms in the nail to become aligned with each other. This means that their poles are all pointing in the same direction, causing the nail to take on magnetic properties temporarily.
How do I get energy to work for me?
Energy causes things around us to happen. Though you cannot see energy, you can see what it does around us. Energy cannot be created nor destroyed but it can be transformed from one form into another.

There are many different types of energy, but they can fall into two categories - kinetic and potential. Stored energy is called potential energy.

There are several forms of potential energy, including chemical energy, stored mechanical energy, nuclear energy, and gravitational energy.

Chemical energy is energy stored in the bonds of atoms and molecules; examples include food, biomass, petroleum, natural gas, and propane.

Stored mechanical energy is the energy stored in objects through an application of some type of force; examples include stretched rubber bands and compressed springs.

Nuclear energy is the energy stored in the nucleus of an atom; released when nuclei are split.

Gravitational energy is the energy stored in objects due to their position or place; examples include a pencil sitting on a desk and water in a reservoir behind a dam.

Moving energy is called kinetic energy. Forms of kinetic energy include electrical energy, radiant energy, heat energy (thermal energy), mechanical energy, and sound energy.

Electrical energy is the energy of the movement of electrons.

Light energy is electromagnetic energy that travels in waves. It includes visible light (including light from the sun), x-rays, and radio waves.

Heat energy (also called thermal energy) is the energy of the vibration and movement of atoms and molecules that make up substances; geothermal is an example.

Mechanical energy is the energy of the movement of objects from one place to another; wind is an example.

Sound energy is the movement of energy through substances in waves.

There are renewable sources of energy and non-renewable sources of energy. Renewable energy sources are ones that can be replenished in a short period of time. This includes wind, water, solar, geothermal (energy from the core of the Earth) and biomass (energy from wood, garbage, and agricultural waste). Non-renewable sources of energy cannot be replenished in a short period of time. These include oil, natural gas, coal and nuclear.

The Energy Reader (http://www.need.org/needpdf/infobook_activities/ ElemInfo/IntroE.pdf) has downloadable reading information that can be distributed to students. The Introduction to Energy may be especially useful for this unit.

students' alternative ideas

What are alternative ideas?

Potential Energy
possible alternative idea
Many students may not be aware that energy can be stored in substances as potential energy. Students typically think that energy is only associated with moving objects.
scientific idea
There are many different types of energy, but they can fall into two categories - kinetic and potential. Stored energy is called potential energy.

There are several forms of potential energy, including chemical energy, stored mechanical energy, nuclear energy, and gravitational energy.

Chemical energy is energy stored in the bonds of atoms and molecules; examples include food, biomass, petroleum, natural gas, and propane.

Stored mechanical energy is the energy stored in objects through an application of some type of force; examples include stretched rubber bands and compressed springs.

Nuclear energy is the energy stored in the nucleus of an atom; released when nuclei are split.

Gravitational energy is the energy stored in objects due to their position or place; examples include a pencil sitting on a desk and water in a reservoir behind a dam.
dealing with the alternative idea
The Energy Transformations Lesson Plan (units.php?frame=frameset&nav=showplan&dqid=160&lpid=102&anchor=) will help students understand that there is energy stored in objects - and this energy can be transformed.
Common Uses of the Term Energy
possible alternative idea
Many students hold a different meaning for the term "energy" than scientists do (Solomon, 1983). In particular, many students believe energy is associated only with humans or movement, is a fuel-like quantity which is used up, or is something that makes things happen and is expended in the process. Students rarely think energy is measurable and quantifiable (Solomon, 1985; Watts, 1983a). Upper elementary-school students tend to associate energy only with living things, in particular with growing, fitness, exercise, and food (Black & Solomon, 1983).
scientific idea
Energy causes things around us to happen. Though you cannot see energy, you can see what it does around us. Energy cannot be created nor destroyed but it can be transformed from one form into another.

There are many different types of energy, but they can fall into two categories - kinetic and potential. Stored energy is called potential energy.

There are several forms of potential energy, including chemical energy, stored mechanical energy, nuclear energy, and gravitational energy.

Moving energy is called kinetic energy. Forms of kinetic energy include electrical energy, radiant energy, heat energy (thermal energy), mechanical energy, and sound energy.
dealing with the alternative idea
The Energy Transformation Lesson Plan (units.php?frame=frameset&nav=showplan&dqid=160&lpid=102&anchor=) will help students understand the meaning of the term energy and that it can be transformed to different forms.
Energy Term Confusion
possible alternative idea
Many students may confuse the terms energy sources, energy forms, and energy transformations.
scientific idea
An energy source is where the energy is derived. There can either be renewable (such as solar energy and wind energy) or non-renewable (such as coal and petroleum) sources of energy.

There are many different forms that energy can take. Generally, they can be separated into two categories - potential and kinetic. Forms of potential energy include chemical and gravitational. Forms of kinetic energy include electrical and sound.
dealing with the alternative idea
The Energy Reader (http://www.need.org/needpdf/infobook_activities/ ElemInfo/IntroE.pdf) has downloadable reading information that can be distributed to students. The Introduction to Energy may be especially useful for this unit (the one for Intermediate grades)
Matter and Energy
possible alternative idea
Elementary and middle-school students may think everything that exists is matter, including heat, light, and electricity (Stavy, 1991; Lee et al., 1993).
scientific idea
Matter is anything that has mass and takes up space. Heat, light, and electricity are all forms of energy.
dealing with the alternative idea
The Energy Transformations Lesson Plan (units.php?frame=frameset&nav=showplan&dqid=160&lpid=102&anchor=) will assist students in understanding that energy is neither created nor destroyed, it just changes forms.
Heat and Temperature
possible alternative idea
Many students cannot distinguish between heat and temperature when they explain thermal phenomena (Kesidou & Duit, 1993; Tiberghien, 1983; Wiser, 1988). Their belief that temperature is the measure of heat is particularly resistant to change.
scientific idea
dealing with the alternative idea
Energy Transformation
possible alternative idea
Many students think that energy transformations involve only one form of energy at a time (Brook & Wells, 1988). Although they develop some skill in identifying different forms of energy, in most cases their descriptions of energy change focus only on forms that have perceivable effects (Brook & Driver, 1986). The transformation of motion to heat seems to be difficult for students to accept, especially in cases with no obvious temperature increase (Brook & Driver, 1986; Kesidou & Duit, 1993).
scientific idea
Many systems involve many different energy transformations. For example, when a toy car moves the following energy transformations take place: Chemical energy (stored in the battery) is transformed into electrical energy which is in turn transformed into light and heat (the lighting of the headlights).
dealing with the alternative idea
The Energy Transformations Lesson plan (units.php?frame=frameset&nav=showplan&dqid=160&lpid=102&anchor=) will help students understand the concept of energy transformations.
Forms of Energy
possible alternative idea
Many students may not understand that some forms of energy, such as light, sound, and chemical energy, can be used to make things happen (Carr & Kirkwood, 1988).
scientific idea
Different energy forms cause things to happen in the world around us. For example, when a toy car moves the following energy transformations take place: Chemical energy (stored in the battery) is transformed into electrical energy which is in turn transformed into light and heat (the lighting of the headlights).
dealing with the alternative idea
The Energy Transformations Lesson plan (units.php?frame=frameset&nav=showplan&dqid=160&lpid=102&anchor=) will help students understand the concept of energy transformations.
Energy Conservation
possible alternative idea
Middle- and high-school students tend to use their intuitive conceptualizations of energy to interpret energy conservation ideas (Brook & Driver, 1986; Kesidou & Duit, 1993; Solomon, 1985). For example, some students interpret the idea that "energy is not created or destroyed" to mean that energy is stored up in the system and can even be released again in its original form (Solomon, 1985).
scientific idea
dealing with the alternative idea

What are alternative ideas?

Why is it important to know the alternative ideas my students hold?

How do I obtain information on the alternative ideas my students hold?
Asking questions and listening carefully to students' responses is key to learning about their ideas. Some guidelines for doing this include:

inquiry adaptatons

What is inquiry in CASES?
What are the benefits of doing inquiry? In addition to helping students better understand the process of investigating the question, engaging in inquiry-oriented activities helps students better understand the topic they are investigating (content) and develop, carry-out, and evaluate investigations that are best suited to their question (problem-solving).
What is inquiry in CASES?
What are the benefits of doing inquiry? In addition to helping students better understand the process of investigating the question, engaging in inquiry-oriented activities helps students better understand the topic they are investigating (content) and develop, carry-out, and evaluate investigations that are best suited to their question (problem-solving). [?] What is inquiry in CASES?[?] What is a driving question?[?] When should students develop the questions? When should the teacher develop the questions?[?] What makes a good representation?[?] What makes a good representation?[?] What makes a good representation?[?] What makes a good representation?[?] What makes a good representation?[?] What makes a good representation?
What is a driving question?
It is an overarching topic that helps organize activities and investigations in a project-based science classroom. It encourages students to see connections between various learning activities and apply their knowledge to the real world.
When should students develop the questions? When should the teacher develop the questions?
Both teachers and students can pose questions in science class. It might be easier to decide on these questions as you plan. Within the unit however, both teachers and students can create questions to answer, depending on time considerations, available resources, and students´┐Ż comfort level with inquiry.
What makes a good representation?
Representations should be (scientifically) accurate and appropriate, understandable, helpful for promoting learning, and reasonable given your instructional context.
What makes a good representation?
Representations should be (scientifically) accurate and appropriate, understandable, helpful for promoting learning, and reasonable given your instructional context.
What makes a good representation?
Representations should be (scientifically) accurate and appropriate, understandable, helpful for promoting learning, and reasonable given your instructional context.
What makes a good representation?
Representations should be (scientifically) accurate and appropriate, understandable, helpful for promoting learning, and reasonable given your instructional context.
What makes a good representation?
Representations should be (scientifically) accurate and appropriate, understandable, helpful for promoting learning, and reasonable given your instructional context.
What makes a good representation?
Representations should be (scientifically) accurate and appropriate, understandable, helpful for promoting learning, and reasonable given your instructional context.

The tables below will give you ideas about how to change the lesson plans in this unit to meet your students' needs.

Questioning & predicting

If the lesson focuses on questioning & predicting and if your students have:

more experience with engaging in questions, you might consider... less experience with engaging in questions, you might consider...
Encouraging small groups of students to ask and answer their own questions Having the whole class answer the same questions
Letting student-generated questions drive the investigations within the unit (you might guide them by making a shorter list from their questions) Letting students investigate answers to questions you provide for them
Remember: Giving kids ownership over questions will make their investigations meaningful. Remember: It's important that students are engaged with questions -- even if you're the one asking them

Explanations & evidence

If the lesson focuses on explanations & evidence and if your students have:

more experience with explaining their results, you might consider... less experience with explaining their results, you might consider...
Encouraging students to use the word "evidence" as they explain their findings and making sure they actually do use evidence Spending as much class time as is needed to explain to students what "evidence" means - talk about what would and wouldn't count as evidence
Allowing groups or individuals to come up with their own explanations using evidence
Modeling the process of using evidence to explain a result. Use "I think....because..." templates to help students organize their thoughts. Do these as a class for the first few investigations.
Making sure students focus on showing "why" something happened, not just "how" or "that" it happened Making sure students focus on showing "why" something happened, not just "how" or "that" it happened

Communicating & justifying

If the lesson focuses on communicating & justifying and if your students have:

more experience with communicating and justifying their findings, you might consider... less experience with communicating and justifying their findings, you might consider...
Encouraging students to design their own method of communicating and/or choose their audience Having the entire class present findings using same procedure.
Allowing students to form their own argument Providing guidelines to help students communicate their argument.
Encouraging students to question each other on their findings so students will justify their conclusions to each other Encouraging students to justify their findings by asking them "How do you know?" while guiding them in learning how to rely on evidence.

teacher bios

Who are the (fictional) teachers depicted in this unit's images of inquiry?

Liz
Liz is a 6th grade teacher in her second year of teaching. Last summer, she went to a week long seminar on making her teaching more equitable for all learners. Although the emphasis was not on science, she wants to use her science class as the focus this year to create more equtiable opportunities for her students. She wants to "learn to see" inequity in her classroom and develop strategies to provide opportunities for all her learners to succeed.

Lesson plan: Static Electricity

(a 6-8 Electricity and Energy lesson plan)

From week 1 of the unit: How does electricity make things work?

Abstract
Students explore the science of static electricity.
Description
1. Start class by posing the following question to the class: What do you think will happen if I rub a balloon against my hair and hold it near the wall?
    1. Why should my students ask and answer questions in science?
      Asking and answering questions
      • Engages students in working and thinking like scientists
      • Engages students in a search for answers and explanations
      • Motivates students to learn about a topic
      • Helps students learn to do inquiry
      • Improves problem solving skills
    2. How can I help my students ask and answer questions in science?
      • Have students make observations about what they are studying (cells under a microscope, a simple machine, a mealworm)
      • Encourage students to ask questions about their observations, including a combination of descriptive questions (ex. What kind of food do mealworms eat?), relational questions (ex. Which dissolves faster in water - salt or sugar?), and cause and effect questions (ex. How does fertilizer affect the height and size of plants?)
      • If students need help getting started, provide them with question stems such as, I wonder what would happen if . . .?, What if . . .? or How does . . .?
      • Have students develop and critique questions as a class
      • Provide students with good questions to answer (students do not always have to come up with the questions) or select a question from a list the students generate
2. Many students will be familiar with this phenomenon and will readily know that the balloon will stick to the wall. Demonstrate this for students by rubbing a balloon against your hair and placing it near the wall.
  1. The balloon should "stick" to the wall.
  2. Rubbing the balloon against your head gives the balloon a negative charge.
  3. The negative charges on the wall are repelled from the balloon and the positive charges are attracted to the balloon. This gives a force of attraction between the balloon and wall.
3. Ask students to respond to the following question in their science journal: Why did the balloon stick to the wall after I rubbed it against my hair?

4. Facilitate a class discussion around their answers. Do not correct students at this point. Allow them to freely share their answers. Ideally students will bring up the idea of opposite charges attracting. If they do not, then you should mention this idea and have students discuss it. This will help to focus their observations during the mini-experiments.

5. Explain the task to the class: They are going to work in groups of three to complete four mini-experiments that will help them answer the question of why a balloon sticks to the wall after being rubbed against hair.
  1. If you are short on materials, you might want to consider setting up stations for each of the different mini-experiments.
6. Have the students work in groups of three to carry out each mini-experiment. The mini-experiments consist of the following:
Experiment One

Materials: Rubber balloon, wool cloth, mirror

Procedure:
  1. Blow up and tie the balloon
  2. Rub the wool against the balloon very quickly
  3. Using the mirror, bring the balloon near the hair (but do not touch the hair)
For each mini-experiment, students should be expected to first write their predictions about what they think will happen. They then will be recording their observations. In order to structure students' observations, you may want to work as a class to develop one data table that everyone will use.

Experiment Two

Materials: Comb, wool cloth, piece of paper

Procedure:
  1. Tear paper into very tiny pieces and put them on the table
  2. Rub the comb with the wool
  3. Hold the comb near the pieces of paper
Experiment Three

Materials: two balloons, two 3ft pieces of nylon string, wool cloth, marking pen, piece of paper, table or desk

Procedure:
  1. Blow up each balloon
  2. Tie a piece of nylon string to each balloon and tape them to the edge of the desk
  3. Allow the balloons to hang so that they barely touch
  4. Mark an X on each balloon where they touch
  5. Rub the two balloons with the wool
  6. Let go of the balloons
Experiment Four


Materials: Salt, pepper, comb, piece of paper

Procedure:
  1. Shake some salt on the piece of paper
  2. Place some pepper on the salt
  3. Run the comb through hair several times
  4. Bring the comb close to the salt and pepper mixture
    1. Why should students collect evidence to answer questions?
      Collecting evidence
      • Engages students in working and thinking like scientists
      • Engages students in gathering the evidence needed to draw conclusions
      • Facilitates problem solving skills
      • Facilitates understanding of content
      • Facilitates inquiry abilities
    2. How can I help my students collect evidence?
      • Encourage students to actively participate in planning and designing investigations whenever possible
      • Have students develop a way to record the data they collect (data table, journal, etc.)
      • When possible, have students double-check their measurements and repeat experiments to verify the accuracy of their data.
      • Provide students access to as many resources as possible, including the Internet, books, magazines, etc.
      • Model how you expect students to gather and record their data
7. After each group has completed the four mini-experiments, discuss their observations. If the class is using the same type of data table to record their results, you may want to have one big data table on the board (or overhead). Another option is to have each student group explain to you what they observed in each of the different experiments. You can then fill in the large data table as they explain their results.

8. Have the students return to their groups of three to discuss their results. You may want to use the following questions to focus this discussion:
  1. How were our findings consistent with the findings of the rest of the class?
  2. How were our findings different from the findings of the rest of the class?
  3. What might account for these differences?
  4. What are the similarities between the experiences? (Students should mention something about the different objects being rubbed with wool or another object)
  5. Why do you think the objects were rubbed against something else like wool? What effect did this produce? Why do you think it produced this effect? What do we know about charges and attraction?
9. Once students have discussed the above questions as a class, conduct a whole class discussion around them. The goal is to help students understand that rubbing the balloon caused it to have a negative charge. When it is brought next to the wall the negative charges in the wall move (the negative charges are repelled, the positive charges move towards the balloon causing the attraction).

10. Have the class revisit their journal entries. They should be expected to write a new response (ideally with pictures) that illustrate their new understandings based on the activities they did in the lesson. It is important that they use evidence from the activities to back up their answers.
    1. Why should students communicate and justify their findings?
      When students share their findings, they are participating in an important part of the scientific process.
      • Provides students with an opportunity to enhance and expand their ideas, grapple with the findings of their peers, and improve communication skills.
      • Provides other students with an opportunity to ask questions, examine evidence, identify faulty reasoning, and suggest alternative explanations.
      • When communicating and justifying findings, students should use the data they collect to answer a scientific question. You may also want to have students apply their knowledge to a new real world question or situation
    2. How can I help my students communicate and justify their findings?
      • Make sure students know that they will always be expected to share their findings with others: the teacher, classmates, younger students, the community, or other interested parties.
      • Develop guidelines for communicating findings so that students know what is expected of them. (this one is very similar to the next bullet point)
      • Explain to students that they will be expected to explain what they did during their investigations, why they did it that way, what they learned from it, and how their findings helped them to answer a question
      • Encourage students to ask themselves How do I know? about their conclusions to help them justify their findings and show how evidence from their investigations supports their conclusions.
Assessment
Collect students' science journals. Assess whether or not students understand that static electricity is caused by the opposite charges that exist in materials. The rubbing of the balloon causes the buildup of negative charges. When the negatively charged balloon is brought near the wall, the negative charges in the wall are repelled while the positive charges are attracted to the balloon. The attraction between negative and positive charges causes the balloon to "stick" to the wall.
Images of Inquiry

How Liz taught this lesson
Liz is very familiar with the hair experiment, but an older colleague points out this experiment will not work with all hair types, particularly that of African American students. In order to keep these students from feeling left out, Liz gets rid of this experiement. Instead, she opens the lesson asking students to freewrite about experiences they've had with static electricity. This allows every learner to connect his or her own experiences with those in science class, and it doesn't isolate any group of students.

As students do the mini-experiments, instead of doing the hair/comb test, she has groups share from their journal entries about static electricity.

Author(s): CASES Team

Lesson plan: Simple Circuits

(a 6-8 Electricity and Energy lesson plan)

From week 1 of the unit: How does electricity make things work?

Abstract
Students create simple circuits to learn about current electricity.
Standards and Benchmarks
AAAS Benchmarks
  • Accurate record-keeping, openness, and replication are essential for maintaining an investigator's credibility with other scientists and society.
Objectives
Students will create simple circuits.

Students will understand the components of a simple circuit.

Students will understand the similarities and differences between static and current electricity.
Class Time Needed
One class period (the optional components will take additional days)
Materials
Per group:
  • one D cell battery
  • two insulated copper wires
  • one battery holder
  • two brass battery clips
  • one bulb
Optional:
  • switch
  • non-conductors
Science Background

How do I turn on the light?
Like the previous week, the science behind this week involves the parts of an atom. For a discussion of atoms, see week one.

How and why does a light bulb light? The reason is because of current electricity. This is different from static electricity. Current electricity appears when the negative charges within matter flow through the positive charges. There must be a circuit for the electrons to flow through.

Circuits are typically separated into three categories -simple, series, and parallel.

Simple circuits have the minimum things needed to create a functioning circuit. A simple circuit has a source of the electricity, a conductive path, and a resistor. A resistor is anything that uses electricity to do work. Typical resistors include a light bulb, buzzer, and motor.

Series circuits are very similar to simple circuits but they have more than one resistor. If there is a break anywhere along the path, the flow of electrons stops and the entire circuit is disabled. The brightness of lightbulbs in a series circuit decreases when more bulbs are added.

In a parallel circuit, there is more than one path for the electrons to follow. In other words, branches are formed that provide separate paths for the flow of electrons. Because of this, a break in one of the pathways does not interrupt the flow in the other paths. A bulb will remain lit in a parallel circuit even though another bulb may be out. When bulbs are added to a parallel circuit

Description
1. Review the previous lesson with students by asking: What is static electricity? What evidence do we see of static electricity around us?
  • This opener serves to activate students' knowledge of static electricity and link to the previous day's lesson.
  • Facilitate a class discussion around students' answers. Do not correct any misunderstandings at this point. Use the discussion as an opportunity to learn more about what students are thinking about electricity.
2. Ask students, Are there other types of electricity around us? Where do we see this electricity? What types of things does this other type of electricity help us do?
Why should my students ask and answer questions in science?
Asking and answering questions
  • Engages students in working and thinking like scientists
  • Engages students in a search for answers and explanations
  • Motivates students to learn about a topic
  • Helps students learn to do inquiry
  • Improves problem solving skills

How can I help my students ask and answer questions in science?
  • Have students make observations about what they are studying (cells under a microscope, a simple machine, a mealworm)
  • Encourage students to ask questions about their observations, including a combination of descriptive questions (ex. What kind of food do mealworms eat?), relational questions (ex. Which dissolves faster in water - salt or sugar?), and cause and effect questions (ex. How does fertilizer affect the height and size of plants?)
  • If students need help getting started, provide them with question stems such as, I wonder what would happen if . . .?, What if . . .? or How does . . .?
  • Have students develop and critique questions as a class
  • Provide students with good questions to answer (students do not always have to come up with the questions) or select a question from a list the students generate
  • Some students may mention the words "current" or "current electricity" But few will know what these words really mean, which is fine at this point. Try to probe their understanding of these terms. This will give you insight into what students are thinking about the topic and alternative conceptions they may have.
  • Most students will know that electricity powers many things around us, including our television sets, hair dryers, lights, etc.
3. Explain to students that this type of electricity is called "current electricity" and they will be studying it in the next several lessons.

4. Ask students to answer the following questions in their science journals: How do you think current electricity is different from static electricity? How do you think current electricity is the same as static electricity? Why do you think this?
  • If students are having trouble answering this question, have them think about examples of static and current electricity. What are the similarities and differences between the two?
5. Place students into groups of two to three. Provide each group with a bag containing
  • one D cell battery
  • two insulated copper wires
  • one battery holder
  • two brass battery clips
  • one bulb
6. Allow the students about five minutes to play around with the contents of the bag. No direction should be given - ideally this is a time of exploration where students are encouraged to mess about with the given materials.
Having students mess about with these materials serves two purposes. First, it piques their curiosity about light bulbs and electricity. Second, it assists you with classroom management because students will first have the opportunity to play around with the materials. This makes it easier for them to focus on the task later in the lesson.

7. Explain the task to students: In small groups they are expected to find all of the possible ways they can light the bulb.
  • Each student should be expected to write their predictions about what they think needs to happen in order for the light bulb to light.
  • Each student should be expected to record (in their science journals) all of their different attempts and whether they were successful or not.
Why should students collect evidence to answer questions?
Collecting evidence
  • Engages students in working and thinking like scientists
  • Engages students in gathering the evidence needed to draw conclusions
  • Facilitates problem solving skills
  • Facilitates understanding of content
  • Facilitates inquiry abilities

How can I help my students collect evidence?
  • Encourage students to actively participate in planning and designing investigations whenever possible
  • Have students develop a way to record the data they collect (data table, journal, etc.)
  • When possible, have students double-check their measurements and repeat experiments to verify the accuracy of their data.
  • Provide students access to as many resources as possible, including the Internet, books, magazines, etc.
  • Model how you expect students to gather and record their data
  • Some students will be able to make the bulb light right away. They should still be expected to make other configurations in order to see which ones do NOT work.
  • In order for the light bulbs to light, there must be direct connections from one battery terminal to the metal side of the bulb and from the metal bottom of the bulb to the other terminal.
8. An option for this lesson: if you have switches, you may want to distribute those. Having students experiment with the switches will help them understand the need for a complete circuit around which the electrons will flow. Students can find out how to build a switch out of simple materials by visiting, Building a Switch (http://moore.electricuniverse.com/ eu_louie.php?sec=1&mc=2&sc=12&pn=experiments_2.html)

9. Once each group has gotten their bulb to light at least once, have each group look at the information they recorded. Have them analyze this information and draw conclusions about what is needed to make the light bulb light. Each group should prepare an explanation (or list) of what is required to light the bulb.
  • Encourage students to look at the differences between the drawings that worked and the ones that didn't.
  • Encourage students to look at the similarities between the drawings that worked. What must happen in order for the bulb to light?
10. Conduct a whole class discussion. Explain that, when the bulb was lit, students created what is called a circuit. The electricity is flowing through the circuit. Ask each group to explain what they think needs to happen to get a complete circuit. Make sure they give evidence to support their answers. Record their thoughts on the board.
  • Write everything the students say on the board.
  • Then, ask the class whether they disagree with anything that is written on the board.
  • The goal of the discussion is for students to understand that circuits need: a source (the battery), a conductive path (the wire), and a resistor (the bulb). And, the current needs a complete path to follow; and there has to be a flow of electricity into the bulb and out of the bulb.
11. Have students revisit their original journal entry. Have students answer the questions again using what they learned from today's activity. The question is: How do you think current electricity is different from static electricity? How do you think current electricity is the same as static electricity? Why do you think this?
Why should students communicate and justify their findings?
When students share their findings, they are participating in an important part of the scientific process.
  • Provides students with an opportunity to enhance and expand their ideas, grapple with the findings of their peers, and improve communication skills.
  • Provides other students with an opportunity to ask questions, examine evidence, identify faulty reasoning, and suggest alternative explanations.
  • When communicating and justifying findings, students should use the data they collect to answer a scientific question. You may also want to have students apply their knowledge to a new real world question or situation

How can I help my students communicate and justify their findings?
  • Make sure students know that they will always be expected to share their findings with others: the teacher, classmates, younger students, the community, or other interested parties.
  • Develop guidelines for communicating findings so that students know what is expected of them. (this one is very similar to the next bullet point)
  • Explain to students that they will be expected to explain what they did during their investigations, why they did it that way, what they learned from it, and how their findings helped them to answer a question
  • Encourage students to ask themselves How do I know? about their conclusions to help them justify their findings and show how evidence from their investigations supports their conclusions.
Assessment
Assess students by collecting students' drawings and journal entries and listening to their discussion.

Assess their drawings by looking at whether students:
  • Attempted to light the bulb using several methods
  • Illustrate the source, resistor, and conductor in each drawing
Assess their journal entries by looking at whether students:
  • Understand that static electricity is the attraction of opposite charges
  • Understand that current electricity is the flow of charges through a conductor
Assess the discussion by whether students:
  • Understand the components of a complete circuit, including the existence of a power source, resistor, conductor, and a complete flow of the current.
Images of Inquiry

This lesson focuses on Explanations & Evidence.

For ideas about how to change this lesson plan to meet your students' needs, see the table on in the inquiry adaptations section of this packet.

How Liz taught this lesson
This lesson is very open-ended, with opportunities for students to explore different directions. Initially, Liz worries that in some groups, one or two students will take over and quickly figure out how to light the bulb, thus isolating other group members and limiting their participation. She decides to purposefully group students. She makes 2 groups of people whom she suspects will come up with ways to light the bulb quickly, and she encourages these students to continue finding more creative ways to light the bulb. By doing this, she challenges those students and provides a better likelihood that the other students will actively participate in the activity as well.

Author(s): CASES Team

Lesson plan: Series and Parallel Circuits

(a 6-8 Electricity and Energy lesson plan)

From week 2 of the unit: How does electricity make things work?

Abstract
Students explore the similarities and differences between series and parallel circuits.
Standards and Benchmarks
AAAS Benchmarks
  • Accurate record-keeping, openness, and replication are essential for maintaining an investigator's credibility with other scientists and society.
Objectives
Class Time Needed
One to two class periods.
Description
1. Pose the following question to students: How do light bulbs light?
Why should my students ask and answer questions in science?
Asking and answering questions
  • Engages students in working and thinking like scientists
  • Engages students in a search for answers and explanations
  • Motivates students to learn about a topic
  • Helps students learn to do inquiry
  • Improves problem solving skills

How can I help my students ask and answer questions in science?
  • Have students make observations about what they are studying (cells under a microscope, a simple machine, a mealworm)
  • Encourage students to ask questions about their observations, including a combination of descriptive questions (ex. What kind of food do mealworms eat?), relational questions (ex. Which dissolves faster in water - salt or sugar?), and cause and effect questions (ex. How does fertilizer affect the height and size of plants?)
  • If students need help getting started, provide them with question stems such as, I wonder what would happen if . . .?, What if . . .? or How does . . .?
  • Have students develop and critique questions as a class
  • Provide students with good questions to answer (students do not always have to come up with the questions) or select a question from a list the students generate

Facilitate a class discussion around their answers. Students should not be corrected at this point.
  • This opener activates students' prior knowledge and prepares them for what they will be learning in today's activity.
  • Students should mention something about circuits. They should understand how a circuit works, including the components and the requirements for the electricity to be able to flow (the circuit needs to be complete).
2. Place students into groups, depending on the amount of materials you have. Distribute the following:
  • one D cell battery
  • several insulated copper wires
  • one battery holder
  • two brass battery clips
  • bulbs
3. Explain the task to students: Using one battery, light as many bulbs in as many holders as possible. Students should start with lighting one bulb - and then add bulbs one by one.
  • Each student should be expected to write their predictions about what they think will happen as each bulb is added.
  • Each student should be expected to sketch (in their science journals) a drawing of everything they try. They should describe the circuits that work as well as the ones that don't AND their observations about bulb brightness.
Why should students collect evidence to answer questions?
Collecting evidence
  • Engages students in working and thinking like scientists
  • Engages students in gathering the evidence needed to draw conclusions
  • Facilitates problem solving skills
  • Facilitates understanding of content
  • Facilitates inquiry abilities

How can I help my students collect evidence?
  • Encourage students to actively participate in planning and designing investigations whenever possible
  • Have students develop a way to record the data they collect (data table, journal, etc.)
  • When possible, have students double-check their measurements and repeat experiments to verify the accuracy of their data.
  • Provide students access to as many resources as possible, including the Internet, books, magazines, etc.
  • Model how you expect students to gather and record their data
4. When more than one bulb is introduced into a circuit, the possible arrangements include both series and parallel circuits as well as various combinations of the two.
  • In a series circuit the electrons flow in one path and there is more than one resistor (light bulb). The current must flow through one device to get to the next device. When adding more components in a series circuit, the current flow decreases So, the light bulbs should get dimmer as more are added.
  • In a parallel circuit there is more than one path for the electrons to flow - branches are formed that provide separate paths for the current to flow through. Each resistor (light bulb) is directly connected to the power source. This means that each device receives the same voltage. So, the light bulbs should not get dimmer as more are added.
5. Once finished, conduct a whole class discussion.
  • Ask students to come up to the board and draw as many different configurations as possible. As students are drawing these on the board, have them describe what happened to the light bulbs in each configuration.
  • Once these are drawn, have the class try to group the drawings according to their similarities. Ideally students will separate series and parallel circuits.
  • Give the students terms to use for each type of circuit by labeling each drawing "series" or "parallel."
6. Have the students work in their groups to explore the differences between these circuits. Have them:
  • Have students wire two circuits in series. One should have one bulb, while the other should have two bulbs in series. (Ask students: Do the bulbs light in each of these series circuits? Compare brightness.) The circuit with two bulbs should be less bright.
  • In the circuit with two bulbs, have students unscrew one of the bulbs. (Ask students: What happens to the other bulb?). The other bulb should go out.
  • Have students set up a parallel circuit with two bulbs. (Ask students: Do both bulbs light in this parallel circuit?) Both bulbs should light.
  • Unscrew one of the bulbs in the parallel circuit. (Ask students: What happens to the other bulb?) The other bulb should remain lit.
7. Once they have finished making the above, conduct a whole class discussion. Ask students, What are the similarities between series and parallel circuits? What are the differences between series and parallel circuits? Be sure students provide evidence to support their answers.
8. Have students respond to these questions in their science journals. Encourage students to use evidence from the activities to support their answers.
  • What are the similarities between series and parallel circuits?
  • What are the differences between series and parallel circuits?
  • Which type of circuit do you think would be used more to light things? Why do you think this?
Why should students communicate and justify their findings?
When students share their findings, they are participating in an important part of the scientific process.
  • Provides students with an opportunity to enhance and expand their ideas, grapple with the findings of their peers, and improve communication skills.
  • Provides other students with an opportunity to ask questions, examine evidence, identify faulty reasoning, and suggest alternative explanations.
  • When communicating and justifying findings, students should use the data they collect to answer a scientific question. You may also want to have students apply their knowledge to a new real world question or situation

How can I help my students communicate and justify their findings?
  • Make sure students know that they will always be expected to share their findings with others: the teacher, classmates, younger students, the community, or other interested parties.
  • Develop guidelines for communicating findings so that students know what is expected of them. (this one is very similar to the next bullet point)
  • Explain to students that they will be expected to explain what they did during their investigations, why they did it that way, what they learned from it, and how their findings helped them to answer a question
  • Encourage students to ask themselves How do I know? about their conclusions to help them justify their findings and show how evidence from their investigations supports their conclusions.
Images of Inquiry

This lesson focuses on Communicating & Justifying.

For ideas about how to change this lesson plan to meet your students' needs, see the table on in the inquiry adaptations section of this packet.

How Liz taught this lesson
Liz remembers learning that one way to promote gender equity in science is to reduce a feeling of competition and promote cooperation. Quite a few students in the class are very competitive, and Liz worries that the science in the lesson might be lost if students focus on who contributed more drawings of strategies. As she walks around the room, she chooses several girls who tend to be quiet and tells them that she will ask them to draw one of their group's strategies later in the class.

To encourage cooperation instead of competition, she asks groups to select their best strategy, but they must have evidence as to WHY that strategy is a good one. Then, the students she pre-selected draw and explain those strategies to the class.

Author(s): CASES Team

Lesson plan: Conductors

(a 6-8 Electricity and Energy lesson plan)

From week 2 of the unit: How does electricity make things work?

Abstract
Students test the conductivity of different substances.
Standards and Benchmarks
AAAS Benchmarks
  • Computers have become invaluable in science because they speed up and extend people's ability to collect, store, compile, and analyze data, prepare research reports, and share data and ideas with investigators all over the world.
Objectives
Students will test the conductivity of various substances.

Students will understand the properties of conductors and non-conductors.
Class Time Needed
One period
Materials
Various materials for groups to use including rubber bands, paper clips, aluminum foil, plastic bag, wood pencil, penny, nail, and eraser.
Description
1. Review the previous material with the class: What are the components of a circuit? Why is each component important?
  • Students should say source of electricity (the battery), a wire, and a bulb.
  • The focus here should be on the wire. Students should understand that the current of electricity flows through the wire.
2. Ask students: Can electricity flow through everything? Can it flow through some substances but not other substances?
  • Facilitate a discussion around their answers.
  • Do not correct students at this point. Use this as an opportunity to learn more about what students think about conductors and insulators.
Why should my students ask and answer questions in science?
Asking and answering questions
  • Engages students in working and thinking like scientists
  • Engages students in a search for answers and explanations
  • Motivates students to learn about a topic
  • Helps students learn to do inquiry
  • Improves problem solving skills

How can I help my students ask and answer questions in science?
  • Have students make observations about what they are studying (cells under a microscope, a simple machine, a mealworm)
  • Encourage students to ask questions about their observations, including a combination of descriptive questions (ex. What kind of food do mealworms eat?), relational questions (ex. Which dissolves faster in water - salt or sugar?), and cause and effect questions (ex. How does fertilizer affect the height and size of plants?)
  • If students need help getting started, provide them with question stems such as, I wonder what would happen if . . .?, What if . . .? or How does . . .?
  • Have students develop and critique questions as a class
  • Provide students with good questions to answer (students do not always have to come up with the questions) or select a question from a list the students generate


3. Ask students: How could we go about testing this? As a class, come up with a procedure for testing whether or not different objects are able to conduct electricity.
  • Write steps for the agreed-upon procedure on the board.
  • Students will probably decide on creating a simple circuit and replacing the wire with different objects such as rubber bands and paper clips to see if the light bulbs light.
4. Provide the needed materials to students. If possible, have different groups test different objects from around the room such as rubber bands, paper clips, aluminum foil, plastic bag, wood pencil, penny, nail, eraser, etc. You can use the Conductor Worksheet (worksheets/Conductor.Wksht.doc) to frame this investigation.
  • Be sure students make predictions before testing each object.
Why should students collect evidence to answer questions?
Collecting evidence
  • Engages students in working and thinking like scientists
  • Engages students in gathering the evidence needed to draw conclusions
  • Facilitates problem solving skills
  • Facilitates understanding of content
  • Facilitates inquiry abilities

How can I help my students collect evidence?
  • Encourage students to actively participate in planning and designing investigations whenever possible
  • Have students develop a way to record the data they collect (data table, journal, etc.)
  • When possible, have students double-check their measurements and repeat experiments to verify the accuracy of their data.
  • Provide students access to as many resources as possible, including the Internet, books, magazines, etc.
  • Model how you expect students to gather and record their data


5. Pair up student groups and have them compare their findings. As a group they should come up with a list of the properties of the objects that conduct electricity and a list of properties that do not conduct electricity.

6. Conduct a whole class discussion about their findings. The class should come to a consensus about the properties of substances that conduct electricity and those that don't.
  • Give the students a label for each of these terms. Substances that conduct electricity are called "conductors." Substances that do not conduct electricity are called "insulators."
  • Facilitate students' understanding of the differences between the two: conductors do not conduct electrical current; conductors are usually metals (like copper, aluminum, and silver). insulators do not conduct electricity; insulators are usually non-metals (like plastic and rubber).
Option One: Ask students to respond to the following question in their science journals: Do you think people conduct electricity? Why or why not? Encourage students to bring in real world applications and their knowledge of where the electricity is around us (based on week one).
  • People can, of course, conduct electricity. Much of our bodies are made of water, which is a conductor.
  • Students should use their knowledge of the electricity around us to answer this question. They should discuss electrical safety procedures such as staying away from downed power lines and not allowing electrical appliances near bathtubs.
Option Two: Students could research different electrical safety procedures on the Internet and create a poster warning others of the potential risks.
Why should students communicate and justify their findings?
When students share their findings, they are participating in an important part of the scientific process.
  • Provides students with an opportunity to enhance and expand their ideas, grapple with the findings of their peers, and improve communication skills.
  • Provides other students with an opportunity to ask questions, examine evidence, identify faulty reasoning, and suggest alternative explanations.
  • When communicating and justifying findings, students should use the data they collect to answer a scientific question. You may also want to have students apply their knowledge to a new real world question or situation

How can I help my students communicate and justify their findings?
  • Make sure students know that they will always be expected to share their findings with others: the teacher, classmates, younger students, the community, or other interested parties.
  • Develop guidelines for communicating findings so that students know what is expected of them. (this one is very similar to the next bullet point)
  • Explain to students that they will be expected to explain what they did during their investigations, why they did it that way, what they learned from it, and how their findings helped them to answer a question
  • Encourage students to ask themselves How do I know? about their conclusions to help them justify their findings and show how evidence from their investigations supports their conclusions.
Assessment
Listen to students' discussion in the post-lab activity. Students should be able to differentiate between conductors and insulators.

Collect students' journals to see whether or not they are making links between what they learned the first week
Images of Inquiry

This lesson focuses on Explanations & Evidence.

For ideas about how to change this lesson plan to meet your students' needs, see the table on in the inquiry adaptations section of this packet.

How Liz taught this lesson
Liz wants her students to be able to see themselves as scientists. She beleives that one way to do this is by providing diverse role models for them. She takes a day of science instruction and encourages students to research scientists who have made contributions in the field of electricity. One resource she guides them to is the Museum of Women and the Electrical Revolution (http://www.ieee-virtual-museum.org/ exhibit/exhibit.php?taid=&id=159251&lid=1&seq=5). She enourages her girls to think about what it might have been like to be a scientist like Nora Stanton Blatch in a time that did not encourage women to do such things. She discusses how society is different now and plans to find a woman electrical engineer to visit the class and talk about her job.

Author(s): CASES Team

Lesson plan: Magnets

(a 6-8 Electricity and Energy lesson plan)

From week 3 of the unit: How does electricity make things work?

Abstract
Students explore the science of magnets.
Standards and Benchmarks
AAAS Benchmarks
  • Accurate record-keeping, openness, and replication are essential for maintaining an investigator's credibility with other scientists and society.
Objectives
Students will perform investigations to learn about the properties of magnets.
Class Time Needed
Parts one and two: One class period; Part three: One class period
Materials
  • Examples of commonly used magnets such as refrigerator or toys with magnets (optional)
  • Iron filings
  • Variety of objects (such as iron nail, aluminum nail, wood chip, plastic game piece, straw, aluminum foil, paper clip, button, coins, copper wire)
  • Baggies for above materials
  • Objects to "block" the magnetic force such as a paper plate, plastic margarine tub, playing card, piece of cardboard, magazine, and a plastic lid
  • Paper clips
Description
1. Start this lesson by asking students to answer the following questions in their science journals:
  • Where have you seen magnets? (Many students will only mention the magnets found on their refrigerators and will not be aware of the widespread use of magnets).
  • What do you know about magnets?
  • What types of materials are attracted to magnets? (Many students will think that all metals are attracted to magnets).
  • Who would need them? How are they used?
2. Have students share their responses with the class. It is important to obtain students' prior knowledge on magnets because they have undoubtedly had experiences with them. These experiences will have formed their understandings of how magnets work.

3. Distribute two bar magnets to each student (or, if you don't have enough materials, to each pair or trio of students).

4. Have the students touch the north pole of one magnet to the north pole of the other magnet. What happens? (they repel one another because of the like charges) Have the students touch the north pole of one magnet to the south pole of the other magnet. What happens? (they attract one another because they are oppositely charged).

5. Place students into group of two or three. Have students place a magnet flat on a table with a piece of paper over it. Have them gently sprinkle iron filings on the paper. They should sprinkle the filings on top of the magnet and several inches away from the magnet.
  • Students should see that magnets have a magnetic field around them. Though they are not able to see the field, it does exist. The iron filings will be concentrated where the field is the strongest - at the north pole and south pole.
6. Explain to the class that magnets are used for many different things. If possible, show students examples of magnets that are used for different purposes, such as cabinet closers, toys with magnets, refrigerator magnets, and speakers from old telephones and radios.
  • Magnets are used in a wide variety of ways. They hold cabinet doors closed, are used in electric motors and generators, scrap metal sorters, telephones, computers, doorbells and tape recorders. Maglev trains operate without wheels as they "float" above the track due to magnetic repulsion between electromagnets in the track.
Part Two: Magnetic Attraction

1. Next, give each group of three a baggie with assorted materials to be tested. These should include things like iron nail, aluminum nail, wood chip, plastic game piece, straw, aluminum foil, paper clip, button, coins, copper wire, etc.

2. Have students first make observations of each object. What material is it made of? What color is it? What is its texture? Then have them make predictions about which objects will be attracted to the magnet and which will not. You can use the Magnetic Attraction Worksheet (worksheets/Magnet%20Worksheet1.doc) to structure this activity.
  • Many students will think that all "metals" are attracted to magnets. In reality, only certain kinds of metals are attracted to magnets -- iron, steel (which contains iron), cobalt, and nickel. Aluminum and copper are not attracted to magnets.
3. Have students complete the activity.

4. Once students have completed this activity, have student groups pair up and share their data. You may want to use the following questions to guide their discussion:
  • Which objects were attracted to the magnet? Which were not?
  • How are our findings similar? How are our findings different?
  • What are the similarities between the objects that were attracted to the magnet? (This is what the observations were for)
  • What are the similarities between the objects that were not attracted to the magnet? (This is what the observations were for).
5. Conduct a whole class discussion about the activity. Try to have the class come up with the properties of the materials that are attracted to magnets and the properties of materials that are not attracted to magnets.
  • Lead students to conclude that only some metals are attracted to a magnet -- not all metals. Take the opportunity to discuss the different types of metals; identify the penny and wire as copper, the foil and one of the nails as aluminum, and the paper clip and iron nail as containing iron. Emphasize the fact that while all of these are metals, only metals or metal alloys containing iron will attract the magnet.
6. Have students respond to the following question in their science journals: What are the properties of the objects that are attracted to magnets? Make sure students justify their answers with evidence from the activity.

Part Three: Magnetic Attraction Through Materials

1. The next part of the lesson deals with having students understand that magnets can attract objects even when another object is put between them.

2. Ask students to respond to the following question in their journals:
  • Can a Magnet's Force Pass Through Solid Objects?
Why should my students ask and answer questions in science?
Asking and answering questions
  • Engages students in working and thinking like scientists
  • Engages students in a search for answers and explanations
  • Motivates students to learn about a topic
  • Helps students learn to do inquiry
  • Improves problem solving skills


How can I help my students ask and answer questions in science?
  • Have students make observations about what they are studying (cells under a microscope, a simple machine, a mealworm)
  • Encourage students to ask questions about their observations, including a combination of descriptive questions (ex. What kind of food do mealworms eat?), relational questions (ex. Which dissolves faster in water - salt or sugar?), and cause and effect questions (ex. How does fertilizer affect the height and size of plants?)
  • If students need help getting started, provide them with question stems such as, I wonder what would happen if . . .?, What if . . .? or How does . . .?
  • Have students develop and critique questions as a class
  • Provide students with good questions to answer (students do not always have to come up with the questions) or select a question from a list the students generate


3. Have students share their responses with the class. Do not correct students' misunderstandings at this point.

4. Provide students with one bar magnet, a paper clip, a paper plate, plastic margarine tub, playing card, piece of cardboard, magazine, and a plastic lid (from a coffee can).

5. Have students make observations of the objects they are using and predictions about whether a magnet placed underneath the object will be able to move a paper clip placed on top of the object. You can use the following worksheet to structure the activity: Magnetic Attraction Through Objects? (worksheets/Magnetic%20Attr.%20Through%20Obj.docc)

6. Have students play around with different variables such as the distance at which the magnets are held from the objects.

Why should students collect evidence to answer questions?
Collecting evidence
  • Engages students in working and thinking like scientists
  • Engages students in gathering the evidence needed to draw conclusions
  • Facilitates problem solving skills
  • Facilitates understanding of content
  • Facilitates inquiry abilities


How can I help my students collect evidence?
  • Encourage students to actively participate in planning and designing investigations whenever possible
  • Have students develop a way to record the data they collect (data table, journal, etc.)
  • When possible, have students double-check their measurements and repeat experiments to verify the accuracy of their data.
  • Provide students access to as many resources as possible, including the Internet, books, magazines, etc.
  • Model how you expect students to gather and record their data


7. Pair up student groups. You may want to use the following questions to guide their discussion:
  • Which objects blocked the force of the magnet? Which ones didn't block the force?
  • What are the similarities between the objects that blocked the force?
  • What are the similarities between the objects that did not block the force?
  • What factors influence the ability of the magnetic force to pass through objects?
8. Conduct a whole class discussion. The goal of this discussion should be to help students understand that the ability of magnetism to pass through a material depends on the type of material, its thickness and the magnet's distance from the object being attracted.

9. Have students respond to the following questions in their science journal: Can a Magnet's Force Pass Through Solid Objects? What does this depend on? Make sure students justify their answers with evidence from the activity.

Why should students communicate and justify their findings?
When students share their findings, they are participating in an important part of the scientific process.
  • Provides students with an opportunity to enhance and expand their ideas, grapple with the findings of their peers, and improve communication skills.
  • Provides other students with an opportunity to ask questions, examine evidence, identify faulty reasoning, and suggest alternative explanations.
  • When communicating and justifying findings, students should use the data they collect to answer a scientific question. You may also want to have students apply their knowledge to a new real world question or situation


How can I help my students communicate and justify their findings?
  • Make sure students know that they will always be expected to share their findings with others: the teacher, classmates, younger students, the community, or other interested parties.
  • Develop guidelines for communicating findings so that students know what is expected of them. (this one is very similar to the next bullet point)
  • Explain to students that they will be expected to explain what they did during their investigations, why they did it that way, what they learned from it, and how their findings helped them to answer a question
  • Encourage students to ask themselves How do I know? about their conclusions to help them justify their findings and show how evidence from their investigations supports their conclusions.
Images of Inquiry

This lesson focuses on Questioning & Predicting, Explanations & Evidence, and Communicating & Justifying.

For ideas about how to change this lesson plan to meet your students' needs, see the tables on in the inquiry adaptations section of this packet.

Author(s): CASES TEAM

Lesson plan: Electromagnets

(a 6-8 Electricity and Energy lesson plan)

From week 3 of the unit: How does electricity make things work?

Abstract
Students explore the science of electromagnets.
Standards and Benchmarks
AAAS Benchmarks
  • If more than one variable changes at the same time in an experiment, the outcome of the experiment may not be clearly attributable to any one of the variables. It may not always be possible to prevent outside variables from influencing the outcome of an investigation (or even to identify all of the variables), but collaboration among investigators can often lead to research designs that are able to deal with such situations.
  • Electric currents and magnets can exert a force on each other.
Objectives
Students will create electromagnets.

Students will understand the similarities and differences between magnets and electromagnets.

Students will design investigations to test the influence of different variables on the strength of an electromagnet.
Class Time Needed
Part One: One class period, Part Two: Two class periods
Materials
Per group:
  • iron nail
  • several small paper clips
  • flexible insulated wire
  • scissors
  • rubber band
  • c or d battery
Science Background

How can I use electricity to make a magnet?
There is a relationship between electricity and magnetism. When electricity flows through a wire, a magnetic field around that wire is produced. If you put a wire around a nail it can become magnetized. While a nail does not typically have magnetic properties (as evidenced by its normal inability to attract paper clips), it can become a temporary magnet when it is placed near an electric current. How can this happen? The nail becomes magnetized because the magnetic field in which it was placed (caused by the electric current) causes groups of atoms in the nail to become aligned with each other. This means that their poles are all pointing in the same direction, causing the nail to take on magnetic properties temporarily.

Description
Magnet Exploration

Part One: Making an Electromagnet

1. Pose the following question to the class: Is a nail a magnet? Do you think it can be made into one? Why or why not? Have them write a response in their science journals.

Why should my students ask and answer questions in science?
Asking and answering questions
  • Engages students in working and thinking like scientists
  • Engages students in a search for answers and explanations
  • Motivates students to learn about a topic
  • Helps students learn to do inquiry
  • Improves problem solving skills


How can I help my students ask and answer questions in science?
  • Have students make observations about what they are studying (cells under a microscope, a simple machine, a mealworm)
  • Encourage students to ask questions about their observations, including a combination of descriptive questions (ex. What kind of food do mealworms eat?), relational questions (ex. Which dissolves faster in water - salt or sugar?), and cause and effect questions (ex. How does fertilizer affect the height and size of plants?)
  • If students need help getting started, provide them with question stems such as, I wonder what would happen if . . .?, What if . . .? or How does . . .?
  • Have students develop and critique questions as a class
  • Provide students with good questions to answer (students do not always have to come up with the questions) or select a question from a list the students generate


2. Facilitate a discussion around their answers. Do not correct any misunderstandings at this point. The goal is to learn more about what students are thinking about the topic.

3. Provide students with the following materials: iron nail, several small paper clips, flexible insulated wire, scissors, rubber band, c or d battery.

4. Explain the task to students: They will be wrapping a wire around a nail; the ends of the wire will be connected to a battery.

5. Have students make a prediction about what will happen for each of the following. You can use the Electromagnetism Worksheet One (worksheets/Electromagnetism%20Wksht%20One.doc) to structure these observations.
  • The bare nail touches the paper clips
  • The nail with wire wrapped around it touches the paper clips
  • The nail with wire wrapped around it (and both ends of the wire touching the battery) touches the paper clips
6. Have them touch the nail to paper clips and record their observations.
  • The paper clips will not be attracted to the nail.
7. Have them wrap a piece of wire tightly around the nail in coils (there should be about 25 turns), leaving six inches of wire free at both ends. Strip about one inch of insulation from both ends of the wire. Have them touch the nail to the paper clips and record their observations.
  • The paper clips will not be attracted to the nail.
8. Have them wrap a rubber band around a battery the long way. Slide one end of the wire under the rubber band so it touches one terminal to the battery. Slide the other end of the wire under the ruber band so it touches the other end. Have them touch the nail to the paper clips and record their observations.
  • IMPORTANT: Warn students to be careful! The ends of the wire will become hot. Don't leave the wire connected to the battery for more than a miute and don't touch the exposed ends of the wire. The battery will also become warm.
  • The paper clips will be attracted to the nail.
Why should students collect evidence to answer questions?
Collecting evidence
  • Engages students in working and thinking like scientists
  • Engages students in gathering the evidence needed to draw conclusions
  • Facilitates problem solving skills
  • Facilitates understanding of content
  • Facilitates inquiry abilities


How can I help my students collect evidence?
  • Encourage students to actively participate in planning and designing investigations whenever possible
  • Have students develop a way to record the data they collect (data table, journal, etc.)
  • When possible, have students double-check their measurements and repeat experiments to verify the accuracy of their data.
  • Provide students access to as many resources as possible, including the Internet, books, magazines, etc.
  • Model how you expect students to gather and record their data


9. Carefully remove the wires from the battery. Allow the nail to sit for several minutes before removing the wire. Have students again touch the nail to the paper clips. The nail will be temporarily magnetized soon after, but will quickly lose its magnetic properties.
  • Explanation: When a wire is connected to the battery a current of electricity is flowing through it. The current passing through the wire produces an invisible magnetic field. This magnetic field makes the nail act like a magnet. When the current is cut off from the wire, the nail is still magnetized because the current has turned it into a temproary magnet. The nail remains magnetized for a while - but eventually becomes demagnetized.
10. Conduct a whole class discussion about the activity. Explain to students that they created an "electromagnet" during the activity. Ask students:
  • What happened during the experiment? How did attaching the wire to the battery change the properties of the nail? Make sure students provide evidence from the activity when answering the questions.
  • Why do you think the nail picked up the paper clips after the wire was attached to the battery? Make sure students provide evidence from the activity when answering the questions.
11. The goal of the discussion should be to help students understand:
  • that wires carrying an electric current produce a magnetic field
  • the current in a coil produces a magnetic field pattern similar to that of a bar magnet
  • the nail becomes a temporary magnet because it is exposed to the magnetic field from the wire carrying the current
12. Have students respond to the following question in their science journals: How is the magnet on your refrigerator the same as an electromagnet? How are they different?

Why should students communicate and justify their findings?
When students share their findings, they are participating in an important part of the scientific process.
  • Provides students with an opportunity to enhance and expand their ideas, grapple with the findings of their peers, and improve communication skills.
  • Provides other students with an opportunity to ask questions, examine evidence, identify faulty reasoning, and suggest alternative explanations.
  • When communicating and justifying findings, students should use the data they collect to answer a scientific question. You may also want to have students apply their knowledge to a new real world question or situation


How can I help my students communicate and justify their findings?
  • Make sure students know that they will always be expected to share their findings with others: the teacher, classmates, younger students, the community, or other interested parties.
  • Develop guidelines for communicating findings so that students know what is expected of them. (this one is very similar to the next bullet point)
  • Explain to students that they will be expected to explain what they did during their investigations, why they did it that way, what they learned from it, and how their findings helped them to answer a question
  • Encourage students to ask themselves How do I know? about their conclusions to help them justify their findings and show how evidence from their investigations supports their conclusions.


Part Two: Testing Variables

1. Pose the following question to students: What do you think influences the strength of an electromagnet?
  • Students may say thinks like: the number of coils around the nail, the way the wire is wrapped around the nail (on top of each other or side by side?), how tightly it is wrapped, size of nail (length and diameter), amount of voltage, etc.
2. Place students into groups of three.

3. Explain the task to students: They will be working in groups to design an investigation that tests how a specific variable influences the strength of an electromagnet. You can use the Electromagnetism Worksheet Two (worksheets/Electromagnetism%20Wksht2.doc) to structure this investigation.
  • Each group should choose one variable to test. These may include, but are not limited to, the number of times the wire is coiled around the nail, the way it is coiled, the size of the nail, the amount of voltage, etc.
  • Students should be expected to write their question, predict what will happen, design a procedure to test their variable, write their observations, and draw conclusions that answer their question using evidence from the experiment.
  • Students should be expected to do at least three trials.
  • You should check their procedures before allowing them to proceed. Be sure that students are keeping all variables constant except for the one they are testing.
4. Once students have completed all three trials, have them draw conclusions about their original question. It is important that they use evidence from their investigation to answer this question.

5. Have students present their findings to the class. These should include explanations of:
  • The problem they investigated.
  • How they carried out the procedure.
  • The results of the experiment.
  • The conclusion they drew (with supporting evidence).
6. Students should be expected to take notes on the other group's presentation.

7. Have students answer the following question in their journals: List several variables that influence the strength of an electromagnet. Why do you think these influence the strength?

Extension: Electromagnets are all around us, but students may not be aware of this. Have students research the uses of electromagnets. What are the advantages of using an electromagnet rather than a regular magnet?
  • Electromagnets are used in a variety of devices and appliances, such as doorbells and telephones, and in devices used for moving magnetic metals.
  • The advantages of the electromagnet are numerous. First, it can be switched on and off. Second, the strength of the electromagnet can be controlled by the amount of current flowing in the wire. Third, reversing the current can reverse the poles of the magnet field.
Assessment
Collect students' journal entry answers to the questions: How is the magnet on your refrigerator the same as an electromagnet? How are they different?

Students should understand that both refrigerator magnets and electromagnets attract certain types of metals and have magnetic fields; refrigerator magnets are permanent magnets while electromagnets are temporary and are need a power source (battery), a wire, and a core (in this case, the nail).

Collect students' journal entry answers to the questions: List several variables that influence the strength of an electromagnet. Why do you think these influence the strength?

Students should understand that a variety of variables influence the strengh of an electromagnet including the way the coil is wrapped around the nail (how tightly it is wrapped, how it is wrapped, etc.), the strength of the current passing through the wire,
Images of Inquiry

This lesson focuses on Questioning & Predicting, Explanations & Evidence, and Communicating & Justifying.

For ideas about how to change this lesson plan to meet your students' needs, see the tables on in the inquiry adaptations section of this packet.

Author(s): CASES Team

Lesson plan: Energy Transformations

(a 6-8 Electricity and Energy lesson plan)

From week 4 of the unit: How does electricity make things work?

Abstract
Students learn about energy transformations by following energy through common systems.
Standards and Benchmarks
AAAS Benchmarks
  • Energy cannot be created or destroyed, but only changed from one form into another.
Objectives
Students will understand the different types of energy that exist.

Students will understand common energy transformations that power the world around them.
Class Time Needed
Three class periods
Teacher Preparation
How Stuff Works (http://www.howstuffworks.com/)

Students can use this website to find out how just about everything works!

Energy Reader (http://www.need.org/needpdf/infobook_activities/ ElemInfo/IntroE.pdf )

You may want to distribute one or more information books found on this website for students to read. The Introduction to Energy may be especially helpful.
Science Background

How do I get energy to work for me?
Energy causes things around us to happen. Though you cannot see energy, you can see what it does around us. Energy cannot be created nor destroyed but it can be transformed from one form into another.

There are many different types of energy, but they can fall into two categories - kinetic and potential. Stored energy is called potential energy.

There are several forms of potential energy, including chemical energy, stored mechanical energy, nuclear energy, and gravitational energy.

Chemical energy is energy stored in the bonds of atoms and molecules; examples include food, biomass, petroleum, natural gas, and propane.

Stored mechanical energy is the energy stored in objects through an application of some type of force; examples include stretched rubber bands and compressed springs.

Nuclear energy is the energy stored in the nucleus of an atom; released when nuclei are split.

Gravitational energy is the energy stored in objects due to their position or place; examples include a pencil sitting on a desk and water in a reservoir behind a dam.

Moving energy is called kinetic energy. Forms of kinetic energy include electrical energy, radiant energy, heat energy (thermal energy), mechanical energy, and sound energy.

Electrical energy is the energy of the movement of electrons.

Light energy is electromagnetic energy that travels in waves. It includes visible light (including light from the sun), x-rays, and radio waves.

Heat energy (also called thermal energy) is the energy of the vibration and movement of atoms and molecules that make up substances; geothermal is an example.

Mechanical energy is the energy of the movement of objects from one place to another; wind is an example.

Sound energy is the movement of energy through substances in waves.

There are renewable sources of energy and non-renewable sources of energy. Renewable energy sources are ones that can be replenished in a short period of time. This includes wind, water, solar, geothermal (energy from the core of the Earth) and biomass (energy from wood, garbage, and agricultural waste). Non-renewable sources of energy cannot be replenished in a short period of time. These include oil, natural gas, coal and nuclear.

The Energy Reader (http://www.need.org/needpdf/infobook_activities/ ElemInfo/IntroE.pdf) has downloadable reading information that can be distributed to students. The Introduction to Energy may be especially useful for this unit.

Students' Alternative Ideas

Common Uses of the Term Energy

Alternative idea: Many students hold a different meaning for the term "energy" than scientists do (Solomon, 1983). In particular, many students believe energy is associated only with humans or movement, is a fuel-like quantity which is used up, or is something that makes things happen and is expended in the process. Students rarely think energy is measurable and quantifiable (Solomon, 1985; Watts, 1983a). Upper elementary-school students tend to associate energy only with living things, in particular with growing, fitness, exercise, and food (Black & Solomon, 1983).

Scientific idea: Energy causes things around us to happen. Though you cannot see energy, you can see what it does around us. Energy cannot be created nor destroyed but it can be transformed from one form into another.

There are many different types of energy, but they can fall into two categories - kinetic and potential. Stored energy is called potential energy.

There are several forms of potential energy, including chemical energy, stored mechanical energy, nuclear energy, and gravitational energy.

Moving energy is called kinetic energy. Forms of kinetic energy include electrical energy, radiant energy, heat energy (thermal energy), mechanical energy, and sound energy.

Dealing with the alternative idea: The Energy Transformation Lesson Plan (units.php?frame=frameset&nav=showplan&dqid=160&lpid=102&anchor=) will help students understand the meaning of the term energy and that it can be transformed to different forms.


Energy Term Confusion

Alternative idea: Many students may confuse the terms energy sources, energy forms, and energy transformations.

Scientific idea: An energy source is where the energy is derived. There can either be renewable (such as solar energy and wind energy) or non-renewable (such as coal and petroleum) sources of energy.

There are many different forms that energy can take. Generally, they can be separated into two categories - potential and kinetic. Forms of potential energy include chemical and gravitational. Forms of kinetic energy include electrical and sound.

Dealing with the alternative idea: The Energy Reader (http://www.need.org/needpdf/infobook_activities/ ElemInfo/IntroE.pdf) has downloadable reading information that can be distributed to students. The Introduction to Energy may be especially useful for this unit (the one for Intermediate grades)


Energy Transformation

Alternative idea: Many students think that energy transformations involve only one form of energy at a time (Brook & Wells, 1988). Although they develop some skill in identifying different forms of energy, in most cases their descriptions of energy change focus only on forms that have perceivable effects (Brook & Driver, 1986). The transformation of motion to heat seems to be difficult for students to accept, especially in cases with no obvious temperature increase (Brook & Driver, 1986; Kesidou & Duit, 1993).

Scientific idea: Many systems involve many different energy transformations. For example, when a toy car moves the following energy transformations take place: Chemical energy (stored in the battery) is transformed into electrical energy which is in turn transformed into light and heat (the lighting of the headlights).

Dealing with the alternative idea: The Energy Transformations Lesson plan (units.php?frame=frameset&nav=showplan&dqid=160&lpid=102&anchor=) will help students understand the concept of energy transformations.


Forms of Energy

Alternative idea: Many students may not understand that some forms of energy, such as light, sound, and chemical energy, can be used to make things happen (Carr & Kirkwood, 1988).

Scientific idea: Different energy forms cause things to happen in the world around us. For example, when a toy car moves the following energy transformations take place: Chemical energy (stored in the battery) is transformed into electrical energy which is in turn transformed into light and heat (the lighting of the headlights).

Dealing with the alternative idea: The Energy Transformations Lesson plan (units.php?frame=frameset&nav=showplan&dqid=160&lpid=102&anchor=) will help students understand the concept of energy transformations.


Energy Conservation

Alternative idea: Middle- and high-school students tend to use their intuitive conceptualizations of energy to interpret energy conservation ideas (Brook & Driver, 1986; Kesidou & Duit, 1993; Solomon, 1985). For example, some students interpret the idea that "energy is not created or destroyed" to mean that energy is stored up in the system and can even be released again in its original form (Solomon, 1985).

Description
(Note: At this level, students should be introduced to energy primarily through energy transformations. Students should trace where energy comes from (and goes next) in examples that involve several different forms of energy along the way: heat, light, motion of objects, chemical, and elastically distorted materials. To change something's speed, to bend or stretch things, to heat or cool them, to push things together or tear them apart all require transfers (and some transformations) of energy.
At this early stage, there may be some confusion in students' minds between energy and energy sources. Focusing on energy transformations may get around this somewhat. Food, gasoline, and batteries obviously get used up. But the energy they contain does not disappear; it is changed into other forms of energy. AAAS, 1993)

Part One: Energy Types
1. Explain to students that they will be learning about energy over the next week. Ask students, What is energy? What are some examples of energy around us?
  • Through their examples, help students understand that energy is a measure of the capability of an object or system to do work.
  • This will probably be confusing to students at first. As they progress through the lesson, though, they will come to understand what this means.
Why should my students ask and answer questions in science?
Asking and answering questions
  • Engages students in working and thinking like scientists
  • Engages students in a search for answers and explanations
  • Motivates students to learn about a topic
  • Helps students learn to do inquiry
  • Improves problem solving skills

How can I help my students ask and answer questions in science?
  • Have students make observations about what they are studying (cells under a microscope, a simple machine, a mealworm)
  • Encourage students to ask questions about their observations, including a combination of descriptive questions (ex. What kind of food do mealworms eat?), relational questions (ex. Which dissolves faster in water - salt or sugar?), and cause and effect questions (ex. How does fertilizer affect the height and size of plants?)
  • If students need help getting started, provide them with question stems such as, I wonder what would happen if . . .?, What if . . .? or How does . . .?
  • Have students develop and critique questions as a class
  • Provide students with good questions to answer (students do not always have to come up with the questions) or select a question from a list the students generate


2. Explain to students that they will first be learning about the different types of energy. Ask, What is the output of each of these systems? In other words, what is the end product of each of these systems? Students should be familiar with these systems because they see them every day or have worked with them in class.
  • The lighting of a bulb when a complete circuit is created
  • The ringing of a doorbell
  • Toaster
  • The movement of the paper clips caused by the electromagnet
  • Radio
  • Hair dryer
3. Hold a whole class discussion around their answers. Write these answers on the board. Students should say something similar to:
  • The lighting of a bulb when a complete circuit is created (light and heat)
  • The ringing of a doorbell (sound)
  • Toaster (heat and light)
  • The movement of the paper clips caused by the electromagnet (movement)
  • Radio (sound)
  • Hair dryer (heat and wind)
4. Explain that students just developed a list of different types of energy. These are all types of kinetic energy - or, the energy of motion.

5. Explain that there's another type of energy - potential (or stored) energy. Ask students, What are some examples of potential energy? In other words, where is energy stored?
  • Students ideally will mention that energy is stored in things like batteries, coal, food, etc.
6. Explain that these different types of potential energy can be separated into four categoreis - chemical energy, stored mechanical energy, nuclear energy, and gravitational energy.
  • Students may not bring up examples of stored mechanical energy or gravitational energy. If this is the case, prompt them to think of examples of these such as nuclear power.
  • Because this unit focuses on electricity and electrical energy, this lesson does not delve deeply into the other energy types. If this is an important part of your standards you may want to spend more time discussing the other energy types.
7. Refer students back to your original list of examples (lighting of bulb, ringing of doorbell, etc.). Ask students, If these are the outputs, what are the inputs? In other words, where did this energy come from?
  • There are two things you could do with this portion of the lesson (the basic idea is that the energy needed for an event must come from somewhere.)
  • Option One: If discussing different renewable and non-renewable sources of electricity (such as solar, wind, coal, natural gas) is an important part of your standards, then you should delve into this here. For example, you could provide students with "readers" (see url above) and/or other resources such as books and the Internet for each of the different energy sources. Student groups could then be assigned one source and be responsible for sharing the information they gather about this source with others.
  • Option Two: If discussing different energy sources isn't a high priority, you may want to simply trace the energy back to electrical energy. Most of the energy transformations in our lives involve electrical energy in some capacity.
Part Two: Energy Transformations
1. The next part of the lesson involves students learning about how one type of energy gets transformed into another type of energy. It is important that students understand that energy is neither created nor destroyed - it is simply transformed from one form into another form.

2. Have students think about the lighting of the bulbs using the circuits. Ask students, What are the energy transformations involved in the lighting of the light bulb?
  • Students should say: the battery has stored chemical energy, the wires have electrical energy, and the bulb (when lit) has light energy and heat energy.
  • Students may not agree about this. Engage students in debating about the different types of energy involved in the lighting of the bulb.
3. If possible, bring in a toy car powered by batteries that makes sounds, lights up, and moves. Ask students, What are all the different forms of energy in this system?
  • There are a variety of energy transformations taking place when the toy car moves, depending on the features of the car. Some examples include:
  • Chemical energy (stored in the battery) is transformed into electrical energy which is in turn transformed into light and heat (the lighting of the headlights).
  • Chemical energy (stored in the battery) is transformed into electrical energy which is in turn transformed into mechanical energy (movement of the wheels).
  • Chemical energy (stored in the battery) is transformed into electrical energy which is in turn transformed into sound energy (the bells and whistles of the car).
Part Two: Investigating Energy Transformations
1. Place students into groups of three.

2. Have each trio of students choose one system they want to investigate (or, assign each group a system). This system should include at least three different forms of energy and at least two different energy transformations. Examples include:
  • Car: chemical energy (in the gas) is burned, causing the gases to expand rapidly. This expansion forces the piston to move (thus, the chemical energy is transformed into mechanical energy). The chemical energy stored in the battery is transformed into electrical energy which is then transformed into light energy (headlights) and sound energy (radio).
  • Hair dryer: electrical energy is transformed into heat energy; electrical energy is also transformed into mechanical energy which is transformed into sound energy; electrical energy is also transformed into mechanical energy (the blowing of the air).
  • Television: electrical energy is transformed into light energy and heat energy; electrical energy is transformed into sound energy.
3. Have groups research how this system works. You may want to have them research this on the Internet, bring in the device from home (if they can take it apart and investigate its inner workings. If this is the case, make sure students use the proper safety precautions!), or give them specific information you find on the Internet, in books, etc.
Why should students collect evidence to answer questions?
Collecting evidence
  • Engages students in working and thinking like scientists
  • Engages students in gathering the evidence needed to draw conclusions
  • Facilitates problem solving skills
  • Facilitates understanding of content
  • Facilitates inquiry abilities

How can I help my students collect evidence?
  • Encourage students to actively participate in planning and designing investigations whenever possible
  • Have students develop a way to record the data they collect (data table, journal, etc.)
  • When possible, have students double-check their measurements and repeat experiments to verify the accuracy of their data.
  • Provide students access to as many resources as possible, including the Internet, books, magazines, etc.
  • Model how you expect students to gather and record their data


4. Have each group present the energy transformations that take place in their system. They should create some type of visual aid (poster, the "real" inside of their system, etc.). Their visual aid should represent the energy transformations that are occurring in that system.
  • If you are short on time, simply place two groups together and have them present their information in smaller groups, rather than to the whole class.
Why should students communicate and justify their findings?
When students share their findings, they are participating in an important part of the scientific process.
  • Provides students with an opportunity to enhance and expand their ideas, grapple with the findings of their peers, and improve communication skills.
  • Provides other students with an opportunity to ask questions, examine evidence, identify faulty reasoning, and suggest alternative explanations.
  • When communicating and justifying findings, students should use the data they collect to answer a scientific question. You may also want to have students apply their knowledge to a new real world question or situation

How can I help my students communicate and justify their findings?
  • Make sure students know that they will always be expected to share their findings with others: the teacher, classmates, younger students, the community, or other interested parties.
  • Develop guidelines for communicating findings so that students know what is expected of them. (this one is very similar to the next bullet point)
  • Explain to students that they will be expected to explain what they did during their investigations, why they did it that way, what they learned from it, and how their findings helped them to answer a question
  • Encourage students to ask themselves How do I know? about their conclusions to help them justify their findings and show how evidence from their investigations supports their conclusions.
Images of Inquiry

This lesson focuses on Communicating & Justifying.

For ideas about how to change this lesson plan to meet your students' needs, see the table on in the inquiry adaptations section of this packet.

How Liz taught this lesson
Liz knows that one way to promote success for all learners is to have options available for assessment, rather than always requiring the same thing from every person. This type of project seems like a good one to try different options. Liz presents students with a general rubric outlining exactly what science they need to show in their final product. Then, she provides a few versions of what the project might look like. Students can bring in the item and demonstrate how the energy transformations take place. They can make a large-scale illustration showing the energy transformations. Writing stories, songs, and making commercials for the products are other options for the students. However, Liz is careful to emphasize that while students may choose the way in which they explain how the energy is transformed, all projects will be graded on how well they explain the science, not how creative they are. Liz isolates students with particular skills, such as drawing, and encourages them to use these skills in designing their group's presentation. Liz feels that fostering this sense of contribution and success in the science classroom is important in developing a positive attitude toward science.

Author(s): CASES Team

Assessment

(a 6-8 Electricity and Energy lesson plan)

From the unit: How does electricity make things work?

Abstract
Students pull together the ideas from the unit in order to answer the driving question.
Materials
Materials to make a poster or other visual aid.
Description
1. Place students into pairs.
  • You may want to have individuals do this and present their posters to others on their team.
2. Explain to students that they will be working in pairs to answer the driving question, How does electricity make things work?

3. Explain to students that it is their responsibility to pull the ideas together from what they have learned over the last several weeks. Students should present their findings to the class once they are finished.

4. Focus students by brainstorming a list of things they might want to put into their presentations. Ask: What types of things do we need to think about in order to answer the driving question? What have we learned over the last several weeks about electricity, magnetism, and energy transformations? Students should respond by discussing:
  • The static electricity that exists around us
  • The use of series and parallel circuits to light bulbs
  • The use of electricity to make electromagnets
  • The energy transformation involved in some common everyday activities
5. Ideally students will pull together the ideas they have learned in the unit. Or, this may require additional research, but it doesn't have to. The students should have learned enough information by the end of the unit to be able to answer this question.

6. Allow students to present to the class. Their presentations should include some type of visual that facilitates students' understanding of the content.

Author(s): CASES Team

ideas and resources

The following resources might be helpful to you as you teach this unit:

Technology (for teachers and kids)
Energy Education (http://www1.eere.energy.gov/education/ )
You can find educational resources on energy, particularly energy efficiency and renewable energy.
Energy Reader (http://www.need.org/needpdf/infobook_activities/ ElemInfo/IntroE.pdf )
This website has downloadable reading information that can be distributed to students. The Introduction to Energy may be especially useful for this unit.
Renewable and Non-Renewable Resources (http://www.eia.doe.gov/kids/energyfacts/ sources/whatsenergy.html)
This website has great information and visual representations of renewable and non-renewable energy sources. A great resource for students to use if they are researching this information!
Interactive Energy Site (http://www.energyquest.ca.gov/index.html)
This is a site where students can learn everything they wanted to know about energy, including an energy library, interactive games and puzzles, and background information on energy.
How Stuff Works (http://www.howstuffworks.com/)
This site provides information on how just about everything around us works! Students can use this site to research information on energy transformations.
Electricity Tutorials (http://www.explorelearning.com/ index.cfm?method=cResource.dspResourcesForCourse&CourseID=313)
This site provides tutorials (with some interactivity and great visuals) on electricity, circuits, magnetism, static electricity and more.
Magnet Resources (http://www.glencoe.com/sec/science/ cgi-bin/splitwindow.cgi?top=http:/ /www.glencoe.com/sec/science/top2.html&link=http:/ /www.execpc.com/%7Erhoadley/magindex.htm)
This site provides a wide variety of resources on magnets, including lesson plans and neat activity ideas.
Magnet Webquest (http://www.glencoe.com/sec/science/ webquest/content/maglevtrains.shtml)
In this Internet webquest students learn how magnets can make a train go. Students are expected to pull together information about magnets and magnetically levitating trains in order to make a model of a magnetically levitating train. This is time consuming and will take some time on the part of the students. But, it might be a neat activity to do if you have the time - or you can offer it as extra credit.