Physical Science

Gravitational Potential Energy Lesson Help


I am currently a pre-service teacher and am taking a Science Methods class. I am working on a lesson for 8th graders on gravitational potential energy. I would love to feedback on lessons or activities that you have tried.

Thank you for your help!

Meghan Peloquin

Meghan Peloquin
Meghan Peloquin
535 Activity Points

Here is a unit I designed for NGSS. 

NGSS Energy Unit

Phenomena One: Rub hands together, they get warm.  Why?

Students draw a poster as a pre-assessment at the beginning of a traditional friction unit.

Phenomena Two: Bouncing a ball, discussing how gravitational potential energy is converted to kinetic energy, elastic potential energy, back to kinetic and gravitational potential energy. 

The ball eventually stops bouncing. Where did the energy go?

Discuss the concept of dissipated energy.

Complete a lab converting gravitational potential energy, to kinetic energy, to heat. Measure increased temperature of lead shot, do calculations.

Temperature mini-unit on the meaning of heat.

Redo poster as a post-assessment at the end of the energy unit.


The most interesting part of this is the lab with the lead shot. It was adapted from a lab called the Mechanical Equivalent of Heat.  This website uses copper shot and an online simulation.  I tried to attach my file, but couldn't get it to work.  It can be simplified for younger students. Just seeing the temperature change without the calculations shows the energy transformations.

Nanette Fladung
Nanette Fladung
1340 Activity Points

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