Energy Forms and Changes

Using a simulation, apply the scientific method to investigate how energy is transferred and changes from one form to another.

Background Reading
Before attempting the activity, read Chapters 3 and 4 of The Sciences. Completing the reading is important for you to be able to correctly apply the concepts of energy and heat to the experiments performed in this activity.

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Introduction to the Simulation
1. After completing the background reading for this assignment, go to the “Energy Forms and Changes” simulation on the PhET simulations website at: Click the play arrow on the simulation graphic to run the web-based simulation or click DOWNLOAD to run the simulation locally on your device.

2. Experiment with the two components of the simulation – Intro and Systems. While experimenting, think about how the concepts of forms of energy, energy transfer, and energy conversion are being illustrated in the simulation.

a. Intro Simulation – In this simulation, explore how heating or cooling iron, brick, water, and olive oil adds or removes energy from the object. Place individually, or stack, the blocks and beakers on the stands. Slide the bar to heat or cool the object(s). Visualize the types, conversion, and transfer of energy in the system by selecting Energy Symbols in the upper right of the simulation screen. Visualize the temperature change of objects by dragging thermometers (upper left of the simulation screen) to the objects.

b. Systems Simulation – In this simulation, you can build your own energy system by choosing an energy source [options (4) in the lower left of the simulation screen], an energy converter [options (2) in the center of the simulation screen], and an energy user [options (4) in the lower right of the simulation screen] and observe how various forms of energy are transferred and change within the system. Visualize the types, conversion, and transfer of energy in the system by selecting Energy Symbols. Vary the amount of energy input to the system by the energy source by using the options provided with each of the energy sources.

3. After spending some time experimenting with the simulations, follow the steps below to conduct the experiments using the Systems Simulation. Before beginning, be prepared to write down your observations.

Experiment Instructions
1. Create THREE different energy system setups to experiment with. Each setup must contain an energy source, an energy converter, and an energy user.

a. Each setup must have a different energy source and a different energy user

b. You must use different energy converters for two of the setups. (Note that there are only two types of energy converters.)

c. Before running each setup, write down a hypothesis, based on your current understanding after reading the background information for the activity, that predicts the types of energy conversions that will take place, and the transfer (flow) of energy in the system.

2. Run each of the setups by providing energy to the system from the source. Experiment with varying the rate of energy provided by the source.

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