Extending “Fun With Energy” In Your Classroom

This study guide is meant to build on the enthusiasm and curiosity of your students about energy in all its forms after watching or participating in the “Fun With Energy” presentation. These activities are fun and engaging and can act as an introduction to the scientific principles they demonstrate. They are also correlated with Next Generation Science Standards for each grade level.



Next Generation Science Standards


K-PS2-1 Plan and conduct an investigation to compare the effects of different strengths or different directions of pushes and pulls on the motion of an object.

Examples: add a string to object, push object, stop a rolling ball, 2 objects collide and push each other

PS3.C A bigger push or pull makes things speed up or slow down more quickly.

Pushes and Pulls

Activity 1


Objects of various sizes and weights including marbles, balls, etc.


Explain that energy is what makes things move. When you push or pull an object, you can make it move. The amount of energy when you push or pull makes the object move fast or slow. Gather objects of various sizes and weights. Have children investigate pushing and pulling the objects and compare the effects of bigger pushes and pulls on the speed of the objects as they move and slow down.

Demonstrate making one ball roll into a stationary ball and push it.

Ask: Why did the second ball move? Explain how the energy from the rolling ball moved into the second ball and made it move.

Demonstrations of Different Types of Energy

Moving Air or Wind Energy

Activity 2

Have children experience making something move with their breath.

Examples: blow to spin a pinwheel, blow through a straw to make paper clips move, blow on toy boat in water

Ask children: Is our breath when we blow on something a kind of energy? How do you know? [It makes things move]

Ask: What happens when the wind blows? What do you see? [wind makes leaves, branches, papers, objects move.] How do we know that wind is a kind of energy? [It moves things.]

Discuss wind energy; show pictures of old-fashioned and modern windmills

Mechanical Energy

Activity 3

Have children examine various wind-up toys. Demonstrate: When you turn the key on the toy, your movements put energy into a spring inside the toy. What happens when you stop turning the key? [key starts to turn] Tell children to feel the toy. What is making it move?

Help children discover that the spring is unwinding and making the toy move.

Demonstrate or draw a diagram to show children that the stored-up energy inside the spring makes the key turn and the toy move.


Demonstrations of Different Types of Energy

Teacher may wish to redo the demonstrations in Kindergarten section.

Kinetic energy and Newton’s First Law

Activity 4

Have two children throw a ball back and forth. Ask: What makes the ball fly through the air? [energy of motion] Where did the energy come from? Explain that the energy from your arm motion is the energy that keeps the ball moving. Why does the ball keep flying in the direction you throw it? Explain that a moving object keeps moving in the same direction until something stops it or changes its direction. What could stop the moving ball? [catching it, hitting something, losing energy because of friction or rubbing against air]

Next Generation Science Standards

Waves: Light and Sound

1-PS4-1 Plan and conduct investigations to provide evidence that vibrating material can make sound and that sound can make materials vibrate. (tuning forks and plucking a stretched string. Hold a piece of paper near a speaker making sound; hold object near vibrating tuning fork)

1-PS4-4 Use tools and materials to design and build a device that uses light or sound to solve the problem of communicating over a distance.

(send signals with a flashlight, paper cup and string telephone, drumbeat patterns as messages)

Sound Energy

Activity 5

Drum Sounds


A drum or any container with top that vibrates

Drumsticks or two wooden spoons


Demonstrate how much energy it takes to make a strong drum sound.

1. Encourage children to feel how the top of the drum vibrates when hit. Then hit two drumsticks against each other and make sure children hear the sound and feel the vibration. Remind children that things that vibrate make sound.

2. Take one drumstick in each hand and place the left stick on the drum surface. Hold it in place on the drum. Then raise the right drumstick and hit the left stick in its center. The children should hear a drum sound clearly.

3. Explain that energy can move from one object into another. When the right drumstick hit the left drumstick, the motion energy moved from the right to the left stick. The left stick began to vibrate. Because the left stick was on the top of the drum, the energy kept moving into the drum. It made the drum top vibrate and created a sound you can hear.

Next Generation Science Standards

Light Energy (Solar)

PS1.A Structure and Properties of Matter

2-LS2-1 Plants depend on water and light to grow.

Activity 6

Plants Use Light Energy

Use a rosemary or other full-sun plant to demonstrate the power of solar energy. Begin with a small plant or with seeds in one or more pots and leave in a sunny window. As the plant grows, explain that the plant uses sunlight to make the food it needs to grow. The plant uses light energy to turn air and water into food it can “eat.” For information on growing rosemary, see



Next Generation Science Standards

PS1.A Structure and Properties of Matter

2-PS1-2/3 Different properties are suited to different purposes.

Demonstrate Static Electrical Energy

Explain that static electricity is made when positive (+) or negative (-)

energy gathers on the surface of an object. You can create static electricity by rubbing some materials together.

Activity 7

Static Electricity


Wool sock or sweater

2 blown-up balloons with strings attached

Aluminum can


1. Rub the first and then the second balloon against the wool. Now, try to move the balloons toward each other. Ask: What is happening? Why can’t you make the balloons touch? Explain that the balloons both have a negative charge so they pull away from each other.

2. Rub one balloon back and forth on your hair and then slowly pull the balloon away.

Ask: Why is my hair standing on end? Explain that your hair has a positive charge and the balloon has a negative charge, so the hair, which is lighter, moves toward the balloon. This is called attraction.

3. Place an aluminum can on its side on a flat surface. Rub a balloon on your hair again and hold balloon near the can. Demonstrate how the can follows the movements of the balloon. Ask students why.

(Positive and negative charges attract each other.)


Form children into small groups to find information on lightning on the Internet. A good source is: Weather Wix Kids at


Guide a class discussion on how lightning forms in thunderstorms and the different kinds of lightning.


Next Generation Science Standards

Transfer of Energy


PS 3A Definitions of Energy

4-PS3-2, 4-PS3-3 Energy can be moved from place to place by moving objects or through sound, light, or electric currents.

4-PS3-2. Make observations to provide evidence that energy can be transferred from place to place by sound, light, heat, and electric currents.

Activity 1

Make a Video About Energy

Have students work in groups to make a video showing different kinds of energy using simple, everyday objects. For examples, balls of different sizes can illustrate potential and kinetic energy. Musical instruments illustrate sound energy. A flashlight converts the electrical power of a battery to light energy. A food blender converts electrical energy to mechanical. Ask students to brainstorm and discuss their ideas before videoing. The video can be used by students to introduce younger students to the topic of energy and how it can be changed from one form to another.

Discover the Energy of Sound

Music is sound energy that transforms to mechanical energy.

Activity 2

Make Sugar Crystals Dance


Bowl, plastic wrap to cover top of bowl, rubber band

Colored sugar crystals (see how to make them using gel coloring on

YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HEnyoOVArao


1. Cover top of bowl with plastic wrap. Secure wrap with rubber band. Make sure that plastic wrap is taut.

2. Sprinkle small bit of colored sugar on the center of the wrap.

3. Have a student put her mouth close to the sugar and repeat the command “Dance” several times. The crystals should jump around.

4. Other students can repeat the action by humming, singing, changing from soft to loud, high to low notes.

5. Ask students to explain why the sugar crystals jump around. Explain that the sound is made by vibrations from the voice box in your throat. The vibrations cause sound waves to travel through the air. Sound waves can also travel through water, metal, and wood. The sound waves are a kind of energy that can move things, like the sugar crystals.

Define resonance (vibrations caused by sound energy).

Demonstrate resonance with a tuning fork, hitting a glass with a metal spoon, or clapping two wooden blocks together.


Have student pairs or small groups find information on how categories of musical instruments make their sounds. Students can demonstrate to class how strings vibrate (violin, guitar): how a reed vibrates (recorder, flute); or how metal vibrates (whistle, harmonica)

Heat Energy

Remind students that heat energy causes matter to expand.

Demonstrate the power of heat energy by constructing an erupting volcano. This is a favorite with kids.

Activity 3

Create a Safe But impressive Volcano


Sturdy cardboard or wooden box lined with newspaper

Glass jar or other container

½ cup water

¼ cup vinegar

¼ cup dish detergent

Red or orange food coloring

2 tablespoons baking soda



1. Place the glass container in the center of the box. Add the water, vinegar, dish detergent and food coloring to the container.


3. When you want the eruption to take place, place the baking soda inside a tissue. Roll up the tissue and drop into the container. The mixture of vinegar and baking soda will result in an eruption of colored “lava” flowing down the sides of the container.

4. Explain that the eruption is a result of the heat created by the mixing of vinegar and baking soda. This chemical reaction creates heat that makes the ingredients expand. The heat energy pushes the mixture out of the container and into the air.


1. Individuals, student pairs or small groups can research how an actual volcano is formed and how it erupts periodically because of heat energy. Students can present an oral report to the class, using visual aids of their own making.

2. Read about how volcanoes may provide energy for the world of the future. Some helpful websites include:

“Geothermal Energy Facts”


Alliant Energy Kids: “Geothermal Energy”



Next Generation Science Standards

PS3.B: Conservation of Energy and Energy Transfer

4-PS3-2, 4-PS3-3 Energy is present whenever there are moving objects, sound, light, or heat. When objects collide, energy can be transferred from one object to another, thereby changing their motion. In such collisions, some energy is typically also transferred to the surrounding air; as a result, the air gets heated and sound is produced.

Activity 1

Sound Waves Travel


Tuning fork

Full 8 ounce glass of water


1. Have a student volunteer hold the glass of water. Then, strike the tuning fork and put it in the water as it vibrates.

2. Students can see the sound waves travel through the water and create splashes.

Light Energy

PS 4A Wave Properties

4-PS3-2 Light also transfers energy from place to place.

Activity 2

Let’s Cook in a Solar Oven!

Go to the following website for instructions on how to build an outdoor oven that cooks food using the power of the sun.



Read about how solar energy works. Go to Alliant Energy Kids: “Solar Power”



4-PS3-2, 4-PS3-4 Energy can also be transferred from place to place

by electric currents, which can then be used locally to produce motion, sound, heat, or light. The currents may have been produced to begin with by transforming the energy of motion into electrical energy.

Activity 3

Make Lightning

This experiment involves creating an electrical spark. It should be a teacher demonstration only. For directions, see


© Copyright 2015 Weather Wiz Kids ® Privacy policy permits teacher and parent use.


1. In a thunderstorm, how is lightning created? Describe how molecules become electrically charged. (As rainwater evaporates, its molecules rise through the air. When the water molecules come in contact with air molecules, they exchange electrons. They become electrically charged (either positively or negatively). A cloud is made up of drops of water. The cloud can build up a strong electrical charge. In time, the cloud cannot hold onto the electricity, which then forms lightning that crashes to the ground.)

2. Why is lightning dangerous to people? (Our bodies are good conductors of electricity. Electricity from lightning travels through a human body into the ground. People die or are injured by the electric charges.)

3. What natural force causes lightning (and other objects) to fall to the ground?


Activity 4

How to Make a Hero’s Engine

“An Easy Hero’s Engine” presented by Bob Becker, Flinn Scientific

With your class, watch the following video demonstration on YOUTUBE of a simple way to build a Hero’s engine.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xKKCBzD7EQs (runs 6.25 minutes)

*This video is part of the Flinn Scientific Best Practices for Teaching Chemistry Video Series, a collection of over 125 hours of free professional development training for chemistry teachers –


ATTENTION: This demonstration is intended for and should only be performed by certified science instructors in a safe laboratory/classroom setting. [In other words, don’t try this at home.]


On a second viewing of the video, the teacher may choose to stop the video at certain points to ask students to answer the following questions which include critical thinking skills. Remind students that the scientist is making a steam engine.

 Why did the scientist punch holes in the can instead of just opening the top to pour the soda out? (He needs the holes to allow the steam to spin the can around and make a steam engine.)

 Why does shaking the can make it quicker to empty out the soda? (The shaking causes bubbles to form. They expand quickly and push the liquid that rests above the bubbles out of the can.)

 Why does he only use a small amount of water to make steam? (It takes water a long time to boil.)

 What might happen if he took the top off the can and just boiled water in it? (The steam would rise into the air and not turn the can around.)

 Help students describe how chemical energy from the gas line became thermal energy? (The methane gas in the line becomes chemical energy. When the methane is heated by the flame from the Bunsen burner, it transforms into thermal or heat energy.)

 How did the heat energy become mechanical energy? (Heat energy made the water boil and create steam. Steam made the can spin, creating mechanical energy.)

 How could this mechanical energy become electrical energy? (The spinning movement of the can could run a generator and create electrical energy.)


Activities 5-8

5. Students can work in pairs or small groups to draw a diagram of how a Hero’s engine (as shown in the video) changes chemical energy to thermal energy to mechanical energy (and electrical energy if they choose). The diagram can be used to create a poster explaining this process.

6. Pairs or small groups can research how a steam turbine (rotating engine) works, draw diagrams, and present an oral report to the class.

7. Pairs or small groups can research who Hero was and what he used his engine for. Tell students that his name is sometimes spelled “Heron” and that he lived in the city of Alexandria in the ancient Roman Empire. Have them create a booklet for the classroom library on their findings.

8. One group of students can research how electricity is generated in their local area, including the source of the electrical power. Another group can investigate alternative methods to fossil fuels that could be used to generate electrical power locally. Each group can present on a different day. Then have a class discussion and take a poll on which method the students would prefer to use.