Energy’s Transforming Power

Driving or Multi-dimensional Question:

How can stored energy be converted into another form for practical use? What energy is undergoing transformations? What energy is being transferred/conserved? What evidence is there that the energy is being conserved in this system?

Unit Summary:

According to the Cross Cutting Concept for Energy and Matter, students will begin to recognize types of energy present in a system and understand how this energy can transfer between objects. Based on several days of lessons and the Science and Engineering Practices, the students will create an evidence-based explanation for the relationships seen in the natural world and be able to identify evidence that supports other explanations. Explanations will be derived from the activities practiced in the course of the lessons as well as the culminating event regarding the student projects and presentations.

Hook Event:

Culminating Event:



Science Standards:

4.PS3.3 Describe how stored energy can be converted into another form for practical use.

Math Standards:

ELA and Other Standards:

4.FL.SC.6 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when speaking and conventions of standard English grammar and usage, including capitalization and punctuation when writing.

Created By: Brittany Crouch and Emily Wong
Grade Level or Subject: 4th Grade

Tennessee Academic Standards for Science Connection

Disciplinary Core Idea: Energy
Science and Engineering Practices: Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions
Cross Cutting Concepts: Energy and Matter

21st Century Skills

  • Critical Thinking
  • Communication Skills
  • Collaboration (Team Building)
  • Creativity and Innovation

Daily Activities

For more information on this lesson please see the Lesson Resources below

  Activities Resources and Materials
Activity One Ping Pong  Shooters:
Students will create their own ping pong ball shooter to demonstrate the conversion of energy.

Ping Pong Shooter Video:

Ping Pong Shooter Materials:
• Plastic cups
• Ping pong balls
• Scissors
• Tape
• Balloons

Activity Two Holiday Light Circuit:
Students will create a circuit that will successfully light up a light bulb from a string of Christmas lights.


• String of Christmas lights
• Scissors or wire strippers
• Aluminum foil
• Brass fasteners
• Tape
• File folder

For More Details:

To Extend Learning, Consider Purchasing:

Activity Three Wind Powered LED:
Students will create and test a wind turbine to perform for a practical use. The practical use will be tested through the lifting of washers.

Materials Needed/Class:
• Box fan
• Pencil sharpener
• One KidWind Mini Turbine Kit:

Materials Needed/Team:
• Fan template
• Paper for taking notes
• Pencil or pen
• 2 corks
• Hot glue or thumbtacks

Windmill Blade Testing Device Materials:
• Half-gallon milk carton
• 1/4 inch by 1-foot dowel
• Small paper cup
• 1-foot string
• Scissors
• 2 metal washers

Materials That May Be Used for Making Turbines:
• 1 empty water bottle
• Other scrap materials (e.g., soda bottles) for making turbine blades
• 4 notecards, or cardstock
• 1-foot of tape
• 8 paper clips

Potential Field Trip Opportunity:
Dream Big film is currently playing in Memphis at the Pink Palace Museum. You can find more information here:

Activity Four

How Heat Works:
Students will see the affect that heat has on molecules and how that plays a part in thermal energy. 

S’more About Thermal Energy:
Students will create and design an oven that is energized by the sun’s heat.

Energy Resources Videos:

Materials—How Heat Works:
3 glass jars
• Tape (for labels)
• Water
• Food coloring

Scaredy Squirrel Goes Camping 

Materials—S’more About Thermal Energy:
• Graham crackers
• Marshmallows
• Chocolate
• Cardboard boxes
• Aluminum foil
• Plastic wrap
• Any other materials that you may want students to have to build their oven

Activity Five Sun Tea:
Students will help make Sun Tea to see how the sun’s energy can be transformed for a practical use.

Energy Resources Videos:

• 1/2 gallon jar with a lid
• Tea bags
• Simple syrup
• Water


Comic Strip:
Students will create a comic strip to show their knowledge of how stored energy can be converted into another form for more practical use.

Students should use their experiences learned through the activities to influence their comic strip.*

*See sample rubric.

Technology Integration:

Business Partner Contribution to Learning Experience Contact Information
Local Electrician Speak to students on how we use stored energy on a daily basis  
Pizza Restaurant Donate cardboard boxes for the oven  
Contractor Speak to students on how people are using different forms of energy to build their homes  

Capstone Presentation:

Students will work towards a project that meets the disciplinary core idea for this PBL lesson. Students will work independently to formulate a comic strip with illustrations and words that show their understanding of how stored energy can be converted into another form for a more practical use. Students will be assessed using a rubric.

Lesson Resources