Year 8

Science Support Materials

Science snapshot: Energy transfer

Science/Science Understanding/Physical sciences

Content Description Relevant aspects of the Achievement Standards

Energy appears in different forms including movement (kinetic energy), heat and potential energy, and causes change within systems (ACSSU155)

Students identify different forms of energy and describe how energy transfers and transformations cause change in simple systems.

Nature of the assessment

Group activity and class discussion

Purposes of the assessment

To check students’ understanding of energy transfer and its effect on objects

Stage in the teaching sequence

Midway through a teaching sequence. After types of energy and energy transformation have been discussed in previous lessons.

Assessment task

Students were given balls and ramps. They were allowed time to play with the equipment and then were required to discuss and answer the following questions:

  1. What type of energy does a moving ball have?
  2. Where does the energy come from when you are rolling the ball on the floor?
  3. When you put the ball at the top of the ramp, it starts moving and rolls down the ramp. Where does it get the energy to move from?
  4. Where does a car get its energy from to move?
  5. After a car has been travelling for a while, its engine gets hot. Explain why this happens.
  6. Draw a flow diagram showing the energy changes/transformations that occur in a car when it is moving and after it has been travelling for a while.

Assessment process

The teacher observed students’ discussion during the activity, and where appropriate prompted them to think about the types of energy involved.

Students answered the questions on a worksheet. This enabled the teacher to assess whether or not the students had a good understanding of energy transformation.

Students were also asked to draw a flow chart to depict the energy transfer in cars (chemical energy that produces the car’s kinetic energy, which is then converted to heat).

Using the information

After the students had completed the activity and filled in the worksheet, there was a class discussion.

The teacher noted the following misconceptions when observing the students during the activity and the class discussion:

  • several students used the terms ‘energy’ and ‘force’ interchangeably
  • some students thought the only type of potential energy was gravitational
  • one student thought an object at rest has no energy.

Flow chart: Many students only showed two types of energy (kinetic' heat).

Based on these observations the teacher refined her next lesson to address the misconceptions.