Journal ArticleDigital resources are stored online in your NSTA Library.
Maria lifts up a book from the table. Dietre eats cereal for breakfast. Akisha winds up a toy robot. Jacob puts batteries in a flashlight. These seemingly dissimilar events demonstrate various ways children experience energy daily. You can help primary students make sense of these experiences and build their conceptual understanding of energy with this series of hands-on energy activities. We’ve used these lessons successfully for several years and have been continually impressed with the understandings that students develop as they conduct them.
The lessons focus primarily on elastic, or spring, energy and use a conceptual hook, a simple phrase that identifies the key ideas from the activities. In these lessons, the “hook” is “lift, squeeze, stretch, and twist,” which summarizes some of the ways students can “put” energy in objects. We chose to emphasize spring energy because it is tangible—students can easily observe the spring (or similar objects such as a rubber
band) change as they squeeze, stretch, or twist it, and they can feel the spring resist them as they change its shape.