One of the Virginia Science Standards of Learning (SOLs) is all about forms of energy. Some of the concepts students learn as part of these forms of energy lessons include—

  • describing energy
  • identifying different forms of energy
  • identifying and describing how energy can be transferred and transformed
  • explaining conservation of energy

Energy is all around us and it takes many different forms. Teaching students to recognize energy in all its forms is exciting. Here are ways to transform your forms of energy unit with hands-on fun for students!

forms-of-energy-lessons-for-upper-elementary

Tips for Teaching Forms of Energy in Virginia

Depending on what state you teach in, your forms of energy lessons may look slightly different. I have worked in curriculum development for many years, and this is one science standard that states differ on. Each state has its own list of specific forms of energy students should recognize.

When the 2018 science SOLs were released, I contacted the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) to clarify which forms of energy Virginia students were expected to know for the science SOL test. The science coordinator responded that any forms of energy listed on the curriculum framework could appear on the SOL test.

With that in mind, the following forms of energy are cited in the “Enduring Understandings” and “Essential Knowledge and Practices” on the 5th-grade science curriculum framework.

  • thermal (heat) energy
  • radiant (light) energy
  • mechanical (motion) energy
  • electrical energy
  • sound energy

Therefore, this blog post and all of my forms of energy resources feature these forms of energy.

Forms of Energy Scavenger Hunt

The best way to teach students about forms of energy is by having them look for real-world examples.

Students assemble their forms of energy notebooks. As a class, we define the form of energy shown on each page. Then, students go on a scavenger hunt to find examples of each type of energy. They record all of their findings in the energy notebook.

forms-of-energy-scavenger-hunt
This Forms of Energy scavenger hunt activity is included in my Forms of Energy Unit. You can find the unit HERE.

You can have students look for examples in the classroom or take them for a walk around the school. You can also encourage them to continue the energy lesson at home by looking for examples around their house.

Forms of Energy Comparison

Each form of energy has similarities and differences with every other form of energy.

Taking time to compare and contrast the different forms of energy helps students gain a deeper understanding of the science content. Do this by having students complete a Venn diagram that compares two or three forms of energy.

forms-of-energy-lessons
This worksheet is included in my Forms of Energy Unit. You can find the unit HERE.

Comparing forms of energy will also highlight some key parts of the science SOL such as:

  • All energy does work or causes change.
  • Energy cannot be created or destroyed.
  • Energy can be transferred.
  • Engery can be transformed.

Energy Transfer Lessons

One of the goals for the forms of energy lessons is that students “make observations to provide evidence that energy can be transferred from place to place by sound, light, heat, and electric currents, and through contact between objects.”

There are several fun experiments that show how energy can be transferred. One of my favorites uses pennies.

In this experiment, students start by placing three pennies side-by-side in a row. They flick a single penny at the row of pennies to discover energy transfer through contact between objects.

forms-of-energy-lesson-plan
This energy transfer experiment is included in my Forms of Energy Unit. You can find the unit HERE.

BONUS: Throughout the lesson, increase the number of pennies in the row. This reviews a concept students learned in the force and motion unit“the more massive an object, the less effect a given force will have on that object.”

Energy Transformations Task Cards

The best part about these forms of energy lessons is that they are so easy to relate to real life. Similar to learning about the forms of energy, have students go on a scavenger hunt to identify energy transformations. Students should identify the type of energy being transformed, what type of energy is transformed into, and why this energy transformation is helpful.

energy-transformation-lesson-plans
You can find these energy transformation task cards in my Forms of Energy Unit. You can find the unit HERE.

You can also use task cards like the ones pictured above to help students identify energy transformations that are common in everyday life.

Energy Transformation STEM Challenge

STEM challenges are a fun way to help students apply what they have learned, especially during your forms of energy lessons!

For this STEM challenge, I provide students with an assortment of items and instruct them to build a device that transforms one form of energy into another form of energy. Students can work independently, in partners, or in small groups for this challenge. Remind students to use the engineering design process when creating their device.

stem-challenge-for-upper-elementary
This STEM challenge uses the engineering design process. You can find it HERE in my Forms of Energy Unit.

Forms of Energy Review Games

Every science unit should end with fun review games to help students practice what they have learned. I have listed the review activities I use with my forms of energy lessons below.

Jeopardy Game

A Jeopardy game is always a fun way for students to review information, whether at the end of a unit or before science SOL testing at the end of the school year. Students can play a digital, self-checking Jeopardy game independently, against a partner, or as teams.

My Forms of Energy Jeopardy game features five categories, totaling 25 questions. The presentation is coded so that students can easily navigate between the category board, questions, and answers. They can also type points into a scoreboard, even when in presentation mode. The resource comes with two versions—one for PowerPoint and one for Google Slides.

The following video is a short tutorial that shows how my science Jeopardy games work.

Escape Room

I’ve shared a lot about classroom escape rooms here on this blog. Classroom escape rooms get students up and moving, incorporate critical thinking skills, and always get students excited about learning.

In my Forms of Energy Escape Room, students find themselves trapped! The only way to escape is for students to successfully complete six challenges that require them to use critical thinking skills as they review science concepts.

forms-of-energy-escape-room-1

Some of the activities included involve:

  • using coordinates to review vocabulary and solve riddles
  • identifying true statements about energy
  • solving math problems to find a code
  • answering comprehension questions to create a code
  • reading passages and decoding information about energy
  • matching forms of energy to their correct descriptions to create a code

You can find my Forms of Energy Escape Room HERE.

forms-of-energy-escape-room-2

Task Cards

Task cards are a go-to for any science review. I love that they are no-prep, can model the types of questions students will see on the science SOL test, and can be used in a variety of different ways.

If you’re looking for a super simple forms of energy review activity, set the task cards at different locations around the room. Have students “scoot” through the different cards. When they have answered all the questions, go over the answers together and award one point per correct answer.

You can find my Forms of Energy Task Cards HERE.

forms-of-energy-review-game

Forms of Energy Test Prep

After you have taught all your forms of energy lessons and played review games, it’s time to take a summative test.

Remember to send home a study guide so that students can continue reviewing on their own before testing. My Forms of Energy Study Guide defines terms, provides visual aids, and explains important concepts related to the forms of energy SOL. It also comes with two pages of review questions.

forms-of-energy-study-guide

Often, I hear parents don’t help their students study at home because they don’t understand the science concepts. My study guide breaks the standard down into small, easy-to-understand pieces and provides a list of comprehension questions with answers that parents can ask.

Conclusion

The forms of energy lessons are some of the easiest science lessons to put together because energy is all around us. All you have to do is get students to apply the concepts to things around them.

The real-world applications of the forms of energy SOL make science fun and relatable for students.

Looking for more about the experiments or games referenced in this blog post? You can find more information in the following resources:

forms-of-energy-lessons-pin
Pin for later.

Have you heard of the Virginia Teacher Club®? The Virginia Teacher Club® is a one-of-a-kind program for upper elementary teachers in Virginia. Members receive instant access to a curriculum library of SOL-aligned math, science, social studies, and ELA resources. There are lesson plans, games, assessments, passages, digital activities, and more for EVERY SOL. By using the Virginia Teacher Club®, our members save hours of planning time every month and have access to high-quality, SOL-aligned resources that students love.

CLICK HERE to join the wait list and be the first to know when the Virginia Teacher Club® reopens for new members.