An energetic return to school!


On this first day back after February vacation, our lesson was on different forms of energy (such as light, chemical or kinetic) and converting between different types of active and stored energies. After coming up with a definition of energy and discussing which forms are active and which are stored, students were also able to investigate energy conversions at workstations set up around the classroom. The hands-on portion of the lab allowed them to experiment with several of the different ways that the forms of energy can be converted from one to the other: gravitational potential energy into kinetic energy, kinetic energy into elastic energy, chemical energy into either light or thermal energy, and pressure/sound into electrical potential (and vice versa; the piezoelectric effect).

Students bounced balls in a tube and measured their return bounce level.  This activity allowed them to quantify and understand the energy conversions that happen when a ball is bounced. The ball starts with gravitational energy that is converted to kinetic energy as it falls and then becomes elastic energy when it reaches the bottom of the tube. When the ball bounces back up, the elastic energy becomes kinetic again.

In the Chemical Corner station, students created chemical reactions in which the chemical energy was converted into heat in an exothermic reaction, or into a flash of blue light. They enjoyed wearing the goggles and using test tubes to evoke the reactions!

Students climbed under a dark blanket and were able to observe a piezoelectric effect in which the deformation of sugar crystals in a wintergreen mint elicited a visible blue glow (wintergreen oil can absorb the released energy and convert it into a visible blue spark). If your student came home asking for wint-o-green LifeSavers candies, science class is the reason why!  Have fun making those blue sparks!



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Dr. Catherine Sukow

Dr. Sukow's interest in science education began when she was a teenager, with an extended visit to San Francisco's Exploratorium. In college, she had summer jobs in a similar, smaller, museum. She focused her Master's research at NCSU on the structure of metal silicides on silicon, and her Ph. D. work at Brandeis on the structure of crossbridged actin bundles. While volunteering in her childrens' schools, she was reminded how much fun it is to teach science, and is happy to be teaching now with Science from Scientists. In her spare time, she also enjoys yoga, choral and solo singing, and attempting a variety of international cuisines.

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Our Young Pre classroom is for ages. This age group is working