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Energy: Fueld for Thought




Using the Poster


An Energy Profile
Energy for the Future
An Energy Budget



Based on an article in
Science & Children Magazine,
Published by the National Science Teachers Association, May 2002

On The Trail of Energy: Classroom Activities

Using The Poster

Black and white version of the Energy Poster

 Click on image to enlarge.

Photocopy the black-and-white poster image and distribute copies to your students. For an enlarged view, download the PDF version of the poster tiled into 6 sections; print the 6 pages of the PDF document on standard letter-sized paper, trim the margins, and tape together in order to form the complete poster.

Then, consider the following activities to help students learn about energy forms, sources, transformations, and uses. Before beginning these activities, review the definition of energy (the ability to do work—e.g., move things, change things, heat them) and discuss the annotated examples to help prepare your students for the activities. 

1. Let students study the poster to find examples of potential energy (stored energy) and kinetic energy (the energy of movement).

2. On the chalkboard, draw a chart with six columns–one for each form of energy. Label the columns mechanical, chemical, radiant, nuclear, thermal, and electrical. Help students list and classify examples of each form.

Mechanical Energy: the energy of position and motion.

Chemical Energy: the energy that bonds molecules together. Chemical energy is released from a chemical reaction such as burning wood, coal, or oil. Our digested food releases chemical energy for use by the body.

Radiant Energy: energy that travels in waves, such as sunlight, radio waves, and X rays.

Nuclear Energy: the kind of energy produced when the nuclei of atoms split or join together. Nuclear power plants split the nuclei of uranium atoms in a process called fission. The sun combines the nuclei of hydrogen atoms in a process called fusion. (Note: Other than the sun itself, no examples of nuclear energy are shown in the poster.)

Thermal Energy: heat, the energy of moving and vibrating molecules. Geothermal energy is an example of thermal energy.

Electrical Energy: the energy of moving electrons. Electricity is electrons moving through a wire. Lightning is another example of electrical energy.

3. Let students circle and label examples of different types of energy sources depicted in the poster, such as solar, gas, electric, wind. (Note: Some sources may not actually be shown, but implied, such as the gasoline in the car.)

4. Let students work in small groups to identify examples of energy transformations. Then, have them explain the ones they've found to others in the class.


Last updated: 11-16-2011