Energy: Stop Faking It!

Simple Machines!
web seminar player window The first of two Web Seminars on Energy: Stop Faking It! was held on Thursday, May 18, 2006, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern time. The presenter was 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. Among the participants were a few teachers who had attended the face-to-face symposium at the NSTA National Conference in Science Education in Anaheim, CA.

The session started with a general overview of the NSTA Web Seminar tools and how they can be used to facilitate interaction between the participants and the presenters. Fifty-eight participants were present in addition to the presenters and the NSTA staff. Participating educators represented the states of California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, and Washington. One educator joined the presentation from Canada.

Robertson started the presentation giving the participants a review of the concepts of kinetic energy, potential energy, and work. He concluded that energy regularly goes from one form to another. To show this, he used drawings with several examples, like a book sliding over the floor, two vehicles crashing, and a pendulum. Robertson began the discussion about simple machines with a pencil, 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.

web seminar player window

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 later used a drawing of a pulley and explained how it works. The last few slides displayed examples of other simple machines, like a toenail clipper, a bottle opener, and a pair of scissors, etc. Throughout the presentation there were several opportunities for the participants to interact with each other and with the presenter by chatting, stamping, and marking. The presenter also answered questions via the chat for 15 minutes after the program finished.

Here are some comments provided by the participants at the end of the Web Seminar:

  • "I like the web seminar the best of all the online formats I have participated in.
    It is a great way to share information and still be able to communicate with others
    in multiple modes."
  • "I'm really excited about the idea of people from absolutely anywhere being able to participate in real-time. I took the class as much for an opportunity to see how this works as for the content. I think there is a ton of potential here."
  • "Great opportunity for new teachers to learn from peers and professionals. Web seminar gave real tools that can be utilized in classroom by teacher at any level."
  • "This web seminar helped to review me on work, kinetic and potential energy. Those were always hard for me to understand when I was in high school."

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

Web Seminar I Resources


See a recorded version of the Web Seminar.


For more information contact

Back to Top

    Underwritten in part by NSTA Press