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Illawarra Environmental Education Centre

Illawarra Environmental Education Centre

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Energy and Forces

Energy and Forces

Stage 3 - Physical world


Killalea State Park or an incursion to your school

Program overview

This program focuses on how energy may be transformed from one form to another. Students investigate energy transformations in alternate sources of energy such as  solar, wind and hand generated energy devices.  They assemble a solar oven to examine its design that uses energy transfers heat s’mores. Students have the opportunity to investigate how electrical circuits can be used to control movement in circuits. This program will also test a student’s ability to test and evaluate a rube goldberg machine, allowing them to further develop an understanding of the interrelationship between force and energy. They also use physical challenges such as tug o war and giant parachute to explore types of forces, before conducting a ball throwing investigation on how changing the strength of a force results in a change in the distance traveled.

Inquiry and focus questions

  • How can we make a force stronger or weaker?
  • What type of energy transformations may be observed?
  • How can electricity be used in a product or system?

Learning experiences  

Pushes and pulls - initiative activities

Students engage in a range of parachute games, 4 way tug o war competition and complete a range of physical challenges which require teamwork and problem solving skills to formulate a solution. Each activity requires a range of pushing or pulling forces (both contact and non-contact) in order to successfully complete. Students use colour-coded giant arrows to indicate the direction of the forces in each activity and whether they were contact or non-contact.

Light ray experiments

Students are led through the safe use and application of Light Ray boxes to test the impact of lenses, prisms and mirrors upon the travel and behavior of light. A variety of procedures are followed to identify and describe light behaviours including reflection, refraction and absorption.

Renewable energy generation

Students are introduced to electrical energy and the different ways it may be generated. Students examine the function of generators and how they can be powered through renewable sources by pedaling an energy bike, use of a variety of hand wound generators, examine and use of wind turbines and the examination of a hydroelectric system. The bountiful energy from solar sources is examined by utilising solar panels to generate renewable electricity from the sun and the use of a solar oven to heat and cook a tasty snack.

Rube Goldburg machine

Students will investigate and research a range of provided materials, components, tools and techniques to produce a product that can store and utilise energy for a purpose, eg: motion. A simple problem, such as the transport of a small payload across a defined area will be presented, and students must define and critique a range of design opportunities and solutions to produce a small, self propelled vehicle which can overcome the outlined challenge (delivery of payload). Each design will be tested and evaluated against a clear criteria for success.

Key syllabus outcomes

Science K-6

S3- Physical World

A student:

  • Explores and describes some common contact and non contact forces
  • Explores the effects of changing the strength of a single contact or non-contact force
  • Identifies different types of energy transformations
  • Investigates how electricity can be transferred and transformed in electrical circuits
  • Investigate how electrical energy can control movement, sound or light
  • Design, test and evaluate a product or system that involves energy transformations

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