Today’s lesson was on different forms of energy (such as radiant, thermal or kinetic) and converting between different types of active and stored energies. In addition to seeing some impressive demonstrations, like burning flash paper and the comeback can, 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).

In the Chemical Corner station, students created chemical reactions in which the resulting released energy could be seen as a glow, bubbles, or a color change. They enjoyed performing such chemical reactions!

Students climbed under a dark blanket and were able to observe how crunching on a 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!




Leighann Sullivan earned her BS in Biology from Cornell University. For a number of years she taught math, science, and language skills at a secondary school for learning disabled students. She subsequently earned her PhD in Biochemistry and Cell Biology from Rice University. Her dissertation was entitled, “Molecular and Genomic Analyses in Clostridium acetobutylicum.” When not pursuing academic interests she enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, reading, and experimenting in the culinary arts.

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