Scenario and Representative-Based Energy Learning
Energy is one of the most important cross-cutting concepts in science. For every physical process, there is an underlying ‘energy story’ of energy transfers and/or transformations. Despite the vast diversity of energy stories, our scientific understanding of energy rests on a single foundational principle: energy can manifest in many different forms but energy is always conserved.
We have found that learners can construct a rigorous yet personal understanding of energy by applying the conservation idea to a series of energy scenarios. Each scenario should provide learners with an opportunity to refine and elaborate on their model for energy. Learners need energy representations to map out and communicate the transfers, transformations, and conservation of energy in each scenario.
Where to Start?
To begin, we recommend looking into different energy representations on our site:
Energy Cubes is an activity in which students use small cubes to represent “chunks” of energy. Designated regions on a whiteboard represent objects of interest. Groups of 3-5 students move and flip these cubes on the whiteboard to dynamically represent the transfer(s) and/or transformation(s) of energy associated with specific scenarios.
Energy Theater is an activity in which students represent “chunks” of energy with their bodies. Designated regions on the classroom floor represent objects of interest. Students move between objects and use hand gestures to dynamically represent the transfer(s) and/or transformation(s) of energy associated with specific scenarios.
Once you understand these representations, we have several scenarios for teaching energy. Each scenario has a different focus and introduces unique perspectives to students. You can search through scenario tags to find one that suits your classroom needs.