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Energy Tree Diagram: How It Works

Energy Tree Diagram: What do wind-up toys, springs, and pop-ups have in common?  Energy! In this video, we’ll take a closer look at these toys to examine what types of energy transfers happen that cause these everyday object to spin, move, and pop.  This is a great way to learn about types of energy in a fun and engaging approach by mapping out the kinds of energy present through a process of drawing out the types of energy in an energy tree diagram.   

  • Presented by: Rob Payo, Denver Museum of Nature & Science and Ann Hernandez,  Association of Science Technology Centers

Supply list:

  • Wind up toys
  • Pop ups
  • Other simple toys, machines
  • Poster paper
  • Markers

Argumentation Toolkit: How It Works

Argumentation Toolkit:    How do you get kids to think and discuss ideas critically on their own?  The Argumentation Toolkit, developed by the Lawrence Hall of Science provides easy yet powerful ways to help students verbalize their thinking.  This video steps you through a simple exercise where students are faced with pieces of evidence and whether they support a claim. These evidence statements are written on cards that students can move around, discuss and argue with one another in a more active, concrete way of supporting their ideas. When it comes to understanding energy and energy related issues, this is a great way to foster productive and meaningful discussion in the classroom.   Funding support for Argumentation Toolkit made possible by a grant from the National Science Foundation. 

  • Presented by Tim Blesse, Denver Museum of Nature & Science


  • Index cards or cardstock (these can be laminated)

Novel Engineering: How It Works

Novel Engineering:  Developed by Tufts University, Novel Engineering is an excellent way to integrate literacy and STEM in your teaching.  In this video, we’ll take you through the steps of this approach using a book on energy as an example. By looking at the characters in a story, students will identify problems these characters are faced with and then brainstorm possible solutions to help them.  Once they’ve chosen one idea to develop, the students can then design a solution using simple materials in the classroom and share and refine their ideas with their classmates—just like an engineer solving with problems with energy.

  • Presented by Rob Payo, Denver Museum of Nature & Science and Ann Hernandez,  Association of Science Technology Centers.

Supply list:

  • Book
  • Scratch/sketch paper
  • Scrap materials (foam, foil, paper, cardboard, fabric, etc)
  • Art supplies (glue, yarn, scissors, tape, markers)

Argumentation Toolkit

The Argumentation Toolkit is a collection of resources designed to help teachers understand and teach scientific argumentation.  The resources featured can be adapted to any science content, including topics in energy.   The Argumentation Toolkit was developed as part of a research and development project in which we are designing videos and other multimedia tools to support middle school teachers in integrating argumentation into their classroom across reading, writing and talking. This project, Constructing and Critiquing Arguments in Middle School Science Classrooms, is a collaboration between the Lawrence Hall of Science and Boston College, and is supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation (DRL-1119584). 

Fizzics Education: Electricity Experiments

This is a collection of experiments and demonstrations from Fizzics Education related to electricity using things you can find at home.

Fizzics Education provides outreach education in Australia. They’re online collection of activities, demonstrations and videos help students understand science at home or other informal environments.

Stretch Your Potential

From this activity from the How to Smile Collection, learners create a toy that demonstrates the First Law of Thermodynamics or the Law of Conservation of Energy. By stretching the rubber band on the toy differently, learners explore the effects of potential energy on kinetic energy. The activity webpage from the Children’s Museum of Houston includes a fun how-to video for learners and educators.

Energy: A Multidisciplinary Approach for Teachers (EMAT)

Energy: A Multidisciplinary Approach for Teachers (EMAT) is an online course for high school science teachers. We developed it for teachers, but it’s chock full of resources that teachers might use with high school students.

Energy ideas are fundamental to all areas of science. Our goal is to help teachers learn more about energy ideas and, in turn, help their students understand energy, too. When our kids understand key energy concepts, they will be better prepared to actively participate as citizens in making energy decisions as part of our rapidly changing economy.

BSCS developed the EMAT course in collaboration with Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB), the National Teachers Enhancement Network (NTEN) of Montana State University, the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL), and the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC).

Register with the Rise learning management system (it’s free) and then choose EMAT from the course catalog.

There are six units in the EMAT course:

  • Coal
  • Nuclear Energy
  • Wind
  • Geothermal Energy
  • Biofuels
  • Solar Energy

Each unit helps teachers learn key energy concepts and think about how to help students learn key energy concepts. As part of the course, there are a variety of materials to help both students and teachers:

  1. Animations—short animated videos that showcase important science and energy concepts
  2. Interactive Learning Experiences—interactive and fun opportunities to explore scientific ideas related to energy
  3. Classroom Videos—see how other teachers have engaged their students in teaching complex ideas related to energy

Sun to Cheese

In this video, Ryan Morra,  Professional Learning Coordinator at Shelburne Farms in Vermont traces the energy and processes involved in making cheese all the way back to the Sun as an energy source.  By applying the idea of energy transfer to the real-life scenario of how cheese is made, teachers can then choose to actually make cheese with their students in the classroom. (3:11 minutes)

Facilitating Discussion: The Art of Focused Conversation

In this video, learn how to slow down conversations and elicit deeper thinking and listening in small group discussion using a protocol designed for more focused conversations.  This protocol is ideal for exploring a topic and giving voice to each person in the group in a step-by-step process that allows for more reflective listening and thinking.