Energy: Stop Faking It!

Simple Machines!
Participants use a Science Object simulation to learn about the concept of Work The first of two Web Seminars on Energy: Stop Faking It! was held on Tuesday, January 9, 2007, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern time. The presenter was Dr. Bill Robertson, author of the popular NSTA Press series Stop Faking It! Finally Understanding Science So You Can Teach It. Robertson focused his presentation on simple machines, while spending some time to review the concepts of kinetic energy, potential energy, and work.


Fifty-nine (59) participants were present in addition to the presenter and the NSTA staff. Participating educators represented the states of Arizona, Arkansas, California, Delaware, Georgia, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, and Wisconsin. Some of the participants attended the symposium on the same topic at the Area Conference in Salt Lake City, UT.


Dr. Robertson started the presentation giving the participants a review of the concepts of kinetic energy, potential energy, and work. He described the subject of simple machines using slides depicting a pencil and a ruler working as a lever to lift a rock. These slides elicited many questions from the audience. He continued to define work as the net force multiplied by the distance the object moves in the direction of the force. And furthermore, he concluded that if heat losses due to friction are ignored, then the work done on the system equals work done by the system, or simply, that work "in" equals work "out". At this point, Robertson introduced the mathematical formula to describe this relationship: F1d1=F2d2.


The presenter reviews the concept of Kinetic Energy

Dr. Robertson continued the presentation with several examples using a lever and the mathematical formula describe above to ask the participants questions about the values of the forces and the distances displayed. He also introduced a simulation from one of the Energy Science Objects where the participants had the opportunity to manipulate variables and see results. The last few slides displayed examples of other simple machines, like a toenail clipper, a bottle opener, and a pair of scissors. At the end of the seminar all participants received a copy of NSTA's SciGuide about Force and Motion, grades 5-8.


Here are some comments provided by the participants at the end of the Web Seminar:
  • "My knowledge increased. It will help my work in the classroom."
  • "I am a resource teacher working with teachers in K-5. This helps me with examples to help the teachers understand the concepts they are teaching."
  • "The content itself was a rewarding review of essential concepts of force, work, energy, and simple machines. Good discussion between presenter and students."
  • "This is what my class is working on right now! It was so clear and concise."

Thanks to the participants and to Bill Robertson for the learning opportunity, the interactions, and a job well done!


Web Seminar I Resources


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  Underwritten in part by NSTA Press