Spring Into Energyby: Stephen Van Hook and Tracy Huziak-Clark

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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.

  • Elementary
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Reviews (4)
  • on Wed Apr 29, 2015 10:36 AM

This unit is a great hands on and engaging lesson to teach children about energy. The use of toys is a great way to make the lesson real to the students since they have toys that operate using energy and probably never really thought about why it works. I particularly like the portions where the students can create their own toy with energy.

Charla P
Charla P

  • on Sat Dec 28, 2013 8:26 PM

The article incorporates hands on activities that are easy for students to understand. Sometimes it is just the lack of opportunities to see science in action and these simple activities arise curiosity in students.

Noemi Garcia  (San Benito, TX)
Noemi Garcia (San Benito, TX)

  • on Thu Oct 28, 2010 7:51 PM

This series of hands-on activities can help children use toys and common objects to explore energy and energy transformations. The authors provide details about the ways that students are able to observe the toys best. The activities include songs, chants, and drawing so that students who have a variety of interests and abilities are engaged. Both hands-on and inquiry strategies are included among the activities discussed.

Bambi Bailey  (Tyler, TX)
Bambi Bailey (Tyler, TX)

  • on Tue Aug 06, 2013 10:14 AM

This is a good articles. Has great ideas for lesson plans.


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