We’re beginning a block on energy. I’m not going to lie to you… this stuff is tough. At least at first. Many of these concepts are quite abstract and it takes a while for them to sink in.The first bit will focus on some of the major definitions of energy so that you can get a feel for what energy is and what it does. Then we will begin to learn about some of the many forms of energy (sound, thermal, light, heat, electrical) and what they do. Are you ready? Let’s get going.You can get started by watching this video, and afterward either read more about it or start your experiments!
So what is this lever thing anyway? Well, at it’s most basic level, it’s a stick and a rock…pretty simple machine huh? The lever is made up of two parts, the lever (the stick part) and the fulcrum (the rock part). Believe it or not, using this very simple machine you can lift hundreds of pounds with your bare hands and very little effort. Let’s try it.

This video gets you started on the right foot. We’ll outline what’s coming up for this week and how to get the most out of our lesson together. Enjoy!

Scientific Concepts:

  • Energy is the ability to do work.
  • Work is moving something against a force over a distance.
  • Mathematically, work = force x distance.
  • Work can be measured in Joules or calories.
  • Power measures how quickly work can be done.
  • Mathematically, power is work divided by time.
  • Power can be measured in horsepower or Watts.
  • Next lesson we will deepen our study of energy by investigating the two main categories of energy, potential and kinetic.


Select a Lesson

Inclined Plane
What's an inclined plane? Jar lids, spiral staircases, light bulbs, and key rings. These are all examples of inclined planes that wind around themselves.  Some inclined planes are used to lower and raise things (like a jack or ramp), but they can also used to hold objects together (like jar lids or light bulb threads).
First, Second, and Third Class Levers
Levers, being simple machines, have only three simple parts. The load, the effort, and the fulcrum. Let’s start with the load. The load is basically what it is you’re trying to lift. The books in the last experiment where the load.
Roller Skate Belts
This isn't strictly a 'levers' experiment, but it's still a cool demonstration about simple machines, specifically how pulleys are connected with belts. Take a rubber band and a roller skate (not in-line skates, but the old-fashioned kind with a wheel at each corner.)
Hydraulic Pneumatic Earth Mover
When people mention the word “hydraulics”, they could be talking about pumps, turbines, hydropower, erosion, or river channel flow.  The term “hydraulics” means using fluid power, and deals with machines and devices that use liquids to move, lift, drive, and shove things around.
The SeeSaw
We're going to use everyday objects to build a simple machine and learn how to take data. Sadly, most college students have trouble with these simple steps, so we're getting you a head start here. The most complex science experiments all have these same steps that we're about to do...
What’s a Joule?
This experiment is for students Grades 9-12. We're going to really get a good feel for energy and power as it shows up in real life. For this experiment..
Measuring Power
We're going to practice measuring and calculating real life stuff (because science isn't just in a textbook, is it?) When I taught engineering classes, most students had never analyzed real bridges or tools before - they only worked from the textbook.
Mousetrap Car
A super-fast, super-cool car that uses the pent-up energy inside a mouse trap spring to propel a homemade car forward. While normally this is reserved for high school physics classes, it really is a fun and inexpensive experiment to do with kids of all ages. This is a great demonstration of how energy changes form. …
Trebuchet
For ages, people have been hurling rocks, sticks, and other objects through the air. The trebuchet came around during the Middle Ages as a way to break through the massive defenses of castles and cities. It's basically a gigantic sling that uses a lever arm to quickly speed up the rocks before letting go.