Crystal P. LaVoie
This unit is to be used during the Integrated Science curricula, typically for ninth graders. The overall goal is to have students design and conduct experiments, to communicate scientific information and data in writing and to use standard scientific methodology. The objectives of this unit are aimed at achieving those goals during a traditional examination of energy and work. It is assumed that the majority of students will have little to no background in the physical concepts of work and energy (while these concepts are covered in sixth grade, it is my experience that students will remember little of this by ninth grade), so this unit will be designed as an introduction to those topics. The unit is to be used amidst the physical science section of the Integrated Science curriculum. It is important that students understand what energy is and how it relates to achieving work; I want them to have a clear understanding of the relationship between these two concepts and how they relate to the natural world. Students will learn where the energy they use every day comes from and how some of the things that produce work for them function. Students will learn about the different types of energy, and how energy is conserved by transformation from one form to another. To do this, students must be introduced to and master a fundamental understanding of the first law of thermodynamics. Students will examine the transformation of energy through a variety of hands-on activities and labs, including constructing a model car and an online dissection of a combustion engine. This leads into an examination of energy resources by comparing different energy sources and ways to conserve energy. This is detailed in the unit co-published herein, “Fossil Fuel Sources, Usage and Alternatives: What Are the Options?” by S. Van Biersel (Resource Teacher at NHA and Institute Fellow, 2004).