Intro to Energy – Anderson + Coltoff

Name of Unit

Introduction to Energy


Pami Anderson and Emma Coltoff


Dr. Albert F. Argenziano School at Lincoln Park


Ms. Murphy

Brief Description

This unit introduces different forms of energy to students through two weeks of interactive worksheets and third week for a marble roller coaster activity.




Energy, Kinetic, Potential

Number of Weeks


Week 1

This week we introduced potential and kinetic energy.  Most students in our fifth grade class were not familiar with different forms of energy.

  • Started by defining kinetic and potential energy on the smart board
  • Asked students for different examples of each type

Next, we handed out different types of balls to groups of four students (tennis ball, ping pong ball, volleyball, wiffle ball) and we had them fill in a table to record the starting height from which they dropped the ball at and then the maximum height the ball reached after bouncing once. They then had to describe when the ball had the most potential and kinetic energy.  We also went over energy conservation with the ball example and how energy can not be lost, but rather transferred into different forms.

Week 2

This week we began by reviewing potential and kinetic energy.  We showed them a roller coaster simulation where the amount of potential and kinetic energy was plotted in bar graphs as the roller coaster moved through different points of the track

  • We handed them a worksheet to fill in the amount of kinetic and potential energy at specific points on the track (in bar graph form- similar to what the simulation had shown)

We then went further into describing other types of energy: mechanical, electrical, heat/thermal, chemical, gravitational and sound.

  • Similarly to the previous week, we asked the students to raise their hands to give examples of the various forms of energy
  • Next, we gave each student another worksheet that included a work bank of the different forms of energy and they had to match each type to a definition, give an example and then describe what type of energy it could have transferred from
  • This worksheet took a very long time for the students to complete, but when they did we felt as though they had a very good understanding of the different energy forms

Week 3

Since this unit had been worksheet heavy, we did a final activity to wrap up different forms of energy.  For this activity we brought in supplies to have them build a roller coasters for a marble. Each group (of about four students) got a piece of cardboard (6” x 12”), a rubber band, a yard of tape and two “track” pieces of poster board (18” long).  There are many online references that go over different ways to make paper roller coasters and how to make straight and loop template tracks (i.e. .

  • Each group took 5 minutes to sketch out a design for a roller coaster using the known materials
  • We handed out all of the supplies and allowed the groups to spend about 30 minutes making their roller coasters
  • This activity allowed for some groups to have more challenging roller coaster designs (with a loop) and other groups who struggled more to just have a straight track
  • At the end, each group demoed how their roller coaster worked and told the class where the marble had the most potential and kinetic energy (and also if any other forms of energy we talked about existed in their roller coaster)
  • The students had a lot of fun in this activity!

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