Engage: Forms of Energy

Click on the video, and make observations.


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What do you see and hear? Did you say flashing lights and changing colors? What might you feel?  Did you say a spinning, buzzing fan? Maybe you would feel vibrations as the fan turned. The longer the toy stays on, the warmer it may become.

What forms of energy are you observing? Light and sound energy can be observed. Are there any other forms of energy you may be observing?

Explore: Exploring Energy

Click on View Related Items to download and print Exploring Energy. Record what you observe during the animation. Click the animation to begin.

Did anything make noise, light up, move, or become warmer? If so, you observed four different forms of energy!

Explain: Energy Made Easy

Read and discuss Forces at Work with a partner or small group. Click on View Related Items to download and read the book.

Elaborate: Energy All-in-One

Think about all of the things around you that have energy. Do those things have more than one form of energy? How do you know?

Let’s look at this flashlight.







What forms of energy does the flashlight have? It lights up which means it has light energy. It has a switch and can roll which means it has mechanical energy when it is in motion or when the switch is being moved. If it makes noise when shaken, it has sound energy. If it becomes warmer after being left on for awhile, it has heat/thermal energy.

Which of those forms of energy are the most important for the flashlight to have? Why do you think that? Most people would say light energy is most important to a flashlight, because the purpose of the flashlight is to provide light.

What if the switch did not slide? If the switch did not slide, the flashlight would not turn on. If the flashlight did not turn on, it could not provide light. Some people may think that mechanical energy would prove most important to the flashlight because that form of energy helps turn on the flashlight.

Look at the following pictures.

Choose the object that most affects you.  What is the purpose of that object? What forms of energy does it have? What would happen if one of those forms of energy was missing?

View the related items below to download and print RM 2, Forms_of_Energy_Cards. Work through the questions recording your answers.

Evaluate: Exploring Energy Assessment

Click on View Related Items to download and print Exploring Energy Assessment. Complete the sentences with your experiences.


Teacher Notes for TEKS 3(6)(A)

While answering discussion questions throughout these lessons, instruct students to answer in complete sentences, encouraging students who are answering in short phrases to use increasingly complex sentences. Provide a sentence frame to model appropriate participation in the discussion. For example, when students are asked what they hear and the response is “air,’’ provide a sentence stem to encourage students to respond, “We hear the air.” To promote the use of complex sentences, provide an additional prompt that requires more information, e.g., “We hear the air moving around the . . .”

The purpose of using the thermometer is for students to record the increasing temperature of the hand warmer in degrees Celsius (°C) and Fahrenheit (°F). In science, students will predominantly use the metric system as they move into higher grade levels because the metric system is a universal language for scientists around the world. However, before young students can function solely in metric, they need to build a frame of reference because they are most likely more familiar with the standard measuring system that we use in the United States. In this activity, students will directly compare temperature in °C and °F. For example, by comparing 23 °C to 74 °F, students will learn that the two temperatures feel the same.

It would be helpful to have materials available for students to complete the task hands-on. Most of the materials can be found in party stores or party sections of multipurpose stores.

Beware of certain hand warmers and the temperature ranges they reach. Avoid hand warmers that incorporate liquid. Some hand warmers will have warning labels. The best hand warmers can be found in sporting goods stores, are small white pouches, with a disposable grainy solid in them. Fold a hand warmer in half around a thermometer to show its increase in temperature.

Remind students not to touch the bulb of the thermometer as that might affect the temperature by reflecting the student’s body temperature. If students lay the thermometer on top of or under the hand warmer, the temperature of the table (or surface it is laying on) or the air will also factor into the temperature of the hand warmer. It is best for students to fold the hand warmer in half over the bulb of the thermometer. That way, the thermometer is only reading the temperature of the hand warmer.

The literacy book, Energy Made Easy, is content heavy. Stop frequently to ask students if they have questions or need clarification.

Mechanical energy is new for third grade students. Keep the definition of mechanical energy simple. If an object moves or can move, it has mechanical energy. Potential and kinetic energy will be defined in grade 6 (TEKS 6(8)(A)).

Thermal energy is also new for third grade students. For the purposes of third grade students, they only need to understand that the terms heat and thermal are related. Those terms will be further defined for students in middle school and high school.

Students will examine different objects and think about the forms of energy they have. Students can work in pairs or suggest their own objects as methods of differentiation.

Debates are encouraged on which form of energy is most important to an object. For example, a person with a hearing impairment may say light energy is most important to a television because they cannot hear it and don't use the sound energy as input. A person with a visual impairment may say sound is most important to the television because they cannot see it and do not use light energy as input. Students can have multiple correct answers as long as their answers are justified and make sense. 

It might be helpful to have a toaster on hand to show students who may not be familiar with a toaster or how it works.

Make sure students understand that spinning fan blades move the air in a room causing the air to feel cooler. A fan does not change the actual temperature of the air.

Answers will vary based on students’ individual life experiences. For example, an answer may resemble the following:

I experience heat energy every day when I take a hot shower.

Sound energy is important to me because I use it every day to wake up.

If I did not have light energy, I could not see if my clothes matched.

The sentence stems provide guided support for ELL students. Turn the sentence stems into open-ended questions for G/T students to answer.