Saturday, March 29, 2014

Spark Student Motivation with Hands On Science - and a Freebie!

I'm linking up with my BBB Joanne over at Head Over Heels for Teaching for Spark Motivation Saturday!

I wanted to share a quick post about what we're doing in Science lately! We've been studying Energy and Electricity, and a big part of that is understanding that energy can be classified as potential and kinetic. 

This Studyjams video explains it really well, and isn't too long.
There's also a handy little quiz included to do with your class after the video. If you haven't heard of Studyjams yet, it's a great free resource. There are lots of short videos that explain concepts in all the subject areas!

After we had a basic understanding of the difference between potential and kinetic energy, I showed my kids a couple videos of some amazing Rube Goldberg Devices. 

This one is my absolute favorite!

While we watched, I had the kids notice when energy was being transferred within the system, when energy was transformed, and when potential energy was activated.  Pausing at different points and quizzing my kids about what kind of energy transfers and transformation were occurring during these engaging videos really helped them understand. It was a lot of fun, and really help the kids see how energy can be transferred and transformed...but never created or destroyed!  

I think one thing I would like to do when I teach this next time is to teach the kids some hand motions to go along with potential, kinetic, transfers, and transformations. That way they could try to make the motions to keep up with the video!

This group is using a catapult from the
simple machines unit as part of their
And now that we've watched some cool Rube Goldberg device movies, and talked a lot about potential and kinetic energy I figured it's time for an assessment. So my intern and I gathered up a bunch of raw materials, and my kids have been building their own devices! They are working in groups. They are expected to plan out their device, build and test it, and finally present the device to the class. The devices have to perform a simple task in the end. The kids have to label where the potential energy is in their device, and where energy transfers or transformations will occur. 
Here's the first stage of this group's machine! 
As you can see, the kids are coming up with some great stuff already! And I joined in the fun and have been building one too! If you only watch one video in this post, watch this one because I'm proud of my machine. :)

I made this poster to put up in my room to help kids remember how groups should work. I've posted it in my TpT store as a freebie! Go grab it up! 

Be sure to stop over and check out the other link ups!


  1. Nick-Loved your post. In fact, I made my daughter sit and watch the study jams video to review for our state assessment in science. (until she said she was bored with it and that it isn't a school day!) Oh well! I will have to see if there are clips for reading.

  2. Energy is one of my favorite topics to teach in science. For potential & kinetic energy, there are so many fun experiments you can do. My favorite is when we tape rubber tubing to a wall and try to get a BB to move through the "roller coaster" using only potential and kinetic energy. Such fun!! Your students' projects (and yours!) look amazing! Love the video!!

    Mrs. Laffin's Laughings


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