Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Is It Kinetic or Potential ?

Carson Ealy, Jr.
Gadsden County Schools


This lesson is an introduction to energy. It allows students to explore real life activities that demonstrate kinetic and potential energy.


The student knows the difference between potential and kinetic energy.


-Science Journal
-Index cards for making the energy activity cards


1. Create a checklist to assess mastery of Goal 3 Standards. The checklist should include the following mastery indicators: *Effective communicator- students write their responses and /participate in group discussions. *Cooperative Worker- students work as a group to complete assigned task cooperatively.
2. Make activity cards by writing one statement on each index card. Make enough for each group to receive a set.
The statements should include: A. Burning a birthday candle. B. Lift a weight. C. Eat an apple. D. Turn on a flash light. E. Bouncing a ball. F. Throwing a football. G.Hammering a nail. H. Bouncing on a trampoline. I. Bowling hitting bowling pins. J. Roller coaster at top of the track.


1. Open the lesson by asking a student to come to the board and write the meaning for ENERGY. If the definition is incorrect, ask another student to assist with the definition.
2. Discuss the importance of energy, noting that energy can change the shape, temperature, speed or direction of an object.
3. Write the following on the board and have students record the information in their science journal: Energy- the ability to do work. Work- force acting over a distance to move an object.
4. Write the following examples of energy relating to life and have students record the information in their journals. A. Eating a plate of spaghetti. B. A burning fire. C. A bouncing ball D. A tank of gasoline
5. After journal writing , the teacher discusses the two main types energy, kinetic and potential. Make sure students are given the definitions and examples of each. KINETIC ENERGY is defined as energy that a moving object has due to its motion; energy in motion. POTENTIAL ENERGY is stored and comes from an object's position or condition.
6. Place students in cooperative groups of 3 to 4 students and have them classify the activity card statements as kinetic or potential. They should also include where the potential and kinetic energy is located. Students should record answers in their science journals. (Allow 10-15 minutes)
7. Select a student from each cooperative group to report their responses. Discuss each group's responses and address any misconceptions.
8. Ask the class : What can you conclude about KINETIC energy? (Students may respond that it is moving.) What can you conclude about POTENTIAL energy? (Students may respond that it is not moving).
9. Collect student papers and close the lesson by reviewing concepts.


This introductory lesson will involve using a formative assessment. During the cooperative group activity, the teacher will acknowledge correct and incorrect identification of potential and kinetic energy. The correct answers to the activity card statements are as follows: A. Light the wick- kinetic, wax- potential. B.Moving the weights-kinetic, weights-potential. C. Moving jaws-kinetic, muscles-potential. D. Push button-kinetic, batteries- potential E. Ball falling to floor-kinetic, ball in hand- potential. F. Ball traveling through air-kinetic, muscles- potential. G. Driving nail into the board-kinetic, hammer-potential. H. Person bouncing-kinetic, trampoline- potential. I. Bowling hitting pins-kinetic , backward swing of arm-potential. J. Roller coaster downward-kinetic, top of track-potential.

The Goal 3 Standards will be measured using a checklist. The criteria can be found in the preparation section.


Calculate kinetic energy, determine the gravitational
potential energy
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