Activity Introduction

Quick summary: In this lesson students will examine the moving or ‘dynamic’ components of the Sustainable STEM Sideshow Game, to estimate the ‘Gravitational Potential Energy’ (GPE) of the moveable components or objects in their game (examples might be balls, bean bags, lollies or sweets, wet sponges…).

Students will learn how to measure energy, including GPE, in ‘Joules’ and understand that the kinetic energy exerted on an object in any direction other than towards the Earth will be offset by the GPE held by the object, also measured in Joules.

This lesson sequence will require 1 standard classroom period of 45-50 minutes to complete.

Learning intentions:

  • Students understand that change to an object’s motion (such as a ball that has been thrown, or a beanbag that has been catapulted into the air) is caused by unbalanced forces, including Earth’s gravitational attraction, acting on the object.
  • Students understand that there can be more than one type of energy acting on an object at any one time and that all energy must have been transferred to the object by forces acting upon it.
  • Students will pose clarifying questions about a simple scientific investigation, measure variables and use equipment to collect and record data. They will then make hypothetical predictions based on their scientific knowledge.

21st century skills: 

CommunicatingCritical ThinkingProblem FindingProblem Solving

Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content descriptions: 

Year 5 to 8 Science

  • Change to an object’s motion is caused by unbalanced forces, including Earth’s gravitational attraction, acting on the object (ACSSU117)
  • Energy appears in different forms, including movement (kinetic energy), heat and potential energy, and energy transformations and transfers cause change within systems (ACSSU155)
  • With guidance, pose clarifying questions and make predictions about scientific investigations (ACSIS232)
  • Measure and control variables, select equipment appropriate to the task and collect data with accuracy (ACSIS126)
  • Communicate ideas, explanations and processes using scientific representations in a variety of ways, including multi-modal texts (ACSIS110)
  • Identify questions and problems that can be investigated scientifically and make predictions based on scientific knowledge (ACSIS139)

Syllabus outcomes: SC4-10PW, ST3-4WS, SC4-5WS, SC4-4WS

General capabilities: Literacy, Numeracy, Creative and Critical Thinking.

Relevant parts of Year 5 to 8 achievement standards: 

By the end of Year 6, students explain how scientific knowledge helps us to solve problems and inform decisions. They follow procedures to develop design investigations into simple cause-and-effect relationships. They identify variables to be changed and measured and describe potential safety risks when planning methods. They collect, organise and interpret their data, identifying where improvements to their methods or research could improve the data.

By the end of Year 8, students identify different forms of energy and describe how energy transfers and transformations cause a change in simple systems. They identify and construct questions and problems that they can investigate scientifically, consider safety and ethics when planning investigations and identify variables to be changed, measured and controlled. Students construct representations of their data to reveal and analyse patterns and trends and use these when justifying their conclusions.

Topic: STEM, Sustainability

This lesson is part of the wider unit of work: Sustainable STEM Sideshow.

Time required: 50 mins.

Level of teacher scaffolding: Medium – Teacher needs to explain various mathematical concepts around probability and assist students to apply the outcomes and event frequencies in their own Sideshow Game to the mathematical conceptual framework around probability (see below).

Resources required:

  • A set of ‘nutritional scales’ such as those used to measure weights of food items in grams (these can be purchased quite cheaply at most department stores)
  • Cardboard tube or concave ramp propped up on a slope, with 3 small balls (see the demonstration in ‘Activating prior knowledge’, as set out below)
  • Interactive whiteboard or data projector
  • Students’ ‘Sustainable STEM Sideshow Game’ prototypes, from Lesson 1 of this Unit – set up ready to go in the classroom or learning space
  • Student Worksheet for Lesson 3: Gravity and Energy (one per student)
  • Whiteboard (or electronic whiteboard) with pens.

Keywords: Gravity, gravitational force, energy, gravitational potential energy, kinetic energy, speed, distance.

Cool Australia’s curriculum team continually reviews and refines our resources to be in line with changes to the Australian Curriculum.

Worksheets

Teacher Worksheet

Teacher Preparation

Learning intentions: Students will...

  • ... understand that change to an object’s motion is caused by unbalanced forces, including Earth’s gravitational attraction, acting on the object
  • ... understand that there can be more than one type of energy acting on an object at any one time and that all energy must have been transferred to the object by forces acting upon it
  • ... pose clarifying questions about a simple scientific investigation, measure variables and use equipment to collect and record data
  • ...make hypothetical predictions based on their scientific knowledge.

Success criteria: Students can…

  • ... explain the concept of ‘Gravitational Potential Energy’ (GPE) in simple terms, giving everyday examples
  • ... explain the concept of ‘Kinetic Energy’ in simple terms, giving everyday examples
  • ... hypothesise what the effect of a combination of GPE and kinetic energy might have on a given object, such as a ball, missile or moving component in a game
...
 
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Student Worksheet

My Sustainable STEM Sideshow – Gravity and Energy

Thought starter:  'Gravity. It's not just a good idea; it's the law!' - Adam Savage (Mythbusters)

1. Following the demonstration experiment at the start of this Lesson, note down the things that you SEE, THINK and WONDER about what happens with each of the small balls rolling down the tube:

 

SEE THINK WONDER

Student Notes: Kinetic Energy, Potential Energy, ‘GPE’ and Work

Read carefully through the following notes about the way gravitational force, kinetic energy and ‘work’ affect moving objects – such as those in your Sustainable STEM Sideshow Game!

Gravity is a force of attraction between two objects. The strength of that force depends on (a) the relative mass of the objects and (b) how far apart they are. The Earth holds fairly strong gravitational force over objects near the surface because (a) the Earth has a large mass, and (b) objects on the surface are close! Away from Earth’s

...
 
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