9-12 > Physical Science
 Grade level: 9-12 Subject: Physical Science Duration: 3 class periods
 Student Objectives | Materials | Procedures | Assessment | Vocabulary | Academic Standards

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Student Objectives
• Understand the difference between potential and kinetic energy.
• Describe what causes variations in the amount of potential energy an object has.
• Apply knowledge of potential and kinetic energy to a real-world situation.
Materials
• Elements of Physics: Energy, Work, and Powervideo
• Computers with Internet access (for this lesson, every two students need a computer)
• Paper and pencils
Procedures
1. Ask students to write down on a sheet of paper what they think the following terms mean: potential energy and kinetic energy. Then have students put the sheets away.
2. Tell students that during the lesson, they will work with a partner to design an online roller coaster. To design a safe, fun ride, they need to know some basic facts about potential and kinetic energy. Have students watch the segment "The Work of Energy," part of the programElements of Physics: Energy, Work, and Powerfor background information.
3. Have a brief discussion about potential and kinetic energy. Develop a class definition and write it on the chalkboard. Sample definitions are listed below.
• Potential energy: The energy of a an object at rest
• Kinetic energy: The energy of objects in motion
4. Divide students into pairs and have each pair sit in front of a computer. Direct students to the following Web site:http://www.learner.org/exhibits/parkphysics/coaster/. Tell students to follow the prompts to design a safe and exciting roller coaster ride. Ask them to make decisions about the following:
• The height of the first hill
• The shape of the first hill
• The exit path
• The height of the second hill
• The loop
5. If students have trouble making decisions about each of these items, help them get started by posing the following questions:
• Q:The more energy a roller coaster has at the beginning of the ride, the more successful the ride. That means it needs to begin with a lot of potential energy. What factor do you think affects the amount of potential energy the roller coaster will have?
A:Height affects the amount of potential energy the roller coaster will have. So the higher the hill at the beginning of the ride, the more potential energy the roller coaster will have.
• Q:What do you think is the safest way to "come down" from the first hill?
A:By following a slightly curved path, the roller coaster will move gently down the hill.
• Q:How do you think the roller coaster should exit from the first hill?
A:Just as a roller coaster needs a gentle descent, it also needs a gentle exit. Because of the kinetic energy of the roller coaster, if it exited too quickly, it could run off the track.
• Q:What do you think the height of the second hill should be?
A:To build up momentum for the rest of the ride, the hill should be fairly high. The greater the height, the more potential energy builds up.
• Q:What shape do you think the loop should be?
A:As long as enough potential energy has built up so that the roller coaster has enough energy to finish the ride, an elliptical loop is the safest option.
6. Give students time in class to build their online roller coaster. Ask them to write down their choices on a sheet of paper and draw a picture of each element of their roller coasters.
7. During the next class period, go over students' roller coaster designs. Have each pair present their ideas and share their drawings. Gain class consensus on the most exciting and safest roller coaster design.
8. Conclude the lesson by having each pair check their designs against the safety inspection presented athttp://www.learner.org/exhibits/parkphysics/coaster/. If students made mistakes, make sure they understand what they did wrong and how they can correct their mistakes. Also, make sure students have a clear understanding of the relationship between roller coaster rides and potential and kinetic energy.
Assessment
Use the following three-point rubric to evaluate students' work during this lesson.
• 3 points: Students showed a clear understanding of the difference between potential and kinetic energy; could describe accurately what causes variations in the amount of potential energy an object has; and could accurately apply their knowledge of potential and kinetic energy to a real-world situation.
• 2 points: Students showed a satisfactory understanding of the difference between potential and kinetic energy; could describe somewhat accurately what causes variations in the amount of potential energy an object has; and could apply somewhat accurately their knowledge of potential and kinetic energy to a real-world situation.
• 1 point: Students showed a weak understanding of the difference between potential and kinetic energy; could not describe what causes variations in the amount of potential energy an object has; and had difficulty applying their knowledge of potential and kinetic energy to a real-world situation.
Vocabulary
energy
Definition:Usable power
Context:Heat and sound are two different kinds of energy.

force
Definition:A push or pull acting on an object
Context:When you kick a soccer ball, your foot applies a force to the ball, causing it to move forward.

kinetic energy
Definition:The energy of objects in motion
Context:Cars zooming down a highway have kinetic energy because they are traveling over a distance.

momentum
Definition:The amount or quantity of motion an object has
Context:Because roller coaster cars have a lot of mass, they gain momentum as they go faster.

potential energy
Definition:The energy of an object at rest
Context:The higher the first hill the roller coaster ascends, the more potential energy will build, and the greater the amount of kinetic energy the roller coaster will have.

The National Science Education Standards provide guidelines for teaching science as well as a coherent vision of what it means to be scientifically literate for students in grades K–12. To view the standards, visithttp://books.nap.edu/html/nses/html/overview.html#content.
This lesson plan addresses the following national standards:
• Physical Science: Motion and forces
• Science and Technology: Abilities of technological design; Understanding about science and technology
Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL)
McREL's Content Knowledge: A Compendium of Standards and Benchmarks for K–12 Education addresses 14 content areas. To view the standards and benchmarks, visithttp://www.mcrel.org/compendium/browse.asp.
This lesson plan addresses the following national standards:
• Science: Physical Sciences ? Understands forces and motion
• Technology ? Understands the nature and uses of different forms of technology
• Language Arts: Viewing ? Uses viewing skills and strategies to understand and interpret visual media; Writing: Uses the general skills and strategies of the writing process, Gathers and uses information for research purposes; Reading: Uses reading skills and strategies to understand and interpret a variety of informational texts
The National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS)
NCSS has developed national guidelines for teaching social studies. To become a member of NCSS, or to view the standards online, go tohttp://www.socialstudies.org/standards/strands/.
This lesson plan addresses the following national standards:
• Time, Continuity, and Change
• Individuals, Groups, and Institutions