877-542-5504 877-542-5504

Want to Help Fellow Teachers?

Please help us grow this free resource by submitting your favorite lesson plans.

Lesson Plan #: AELP-PHS0206
Submitted by: Neil Hancey
Email: nhancey@dsdmail.net
School/University/Affiliation: Davis School District, Tech Ed Supv., Farmington, UT

September 13, 2001

Grade Level: 7, 8, 9, 10, Vocational Education


  • Science/Physics
  • Vocational Education/Technology

Duration: Ten 45-minute sessions

Description: Students are given a problem-solving activity where they must design a device that will accurately and quickly deliver a specific load from one location to another by using non-traditional resources.


  • Students will gain an understanding of the importance of Power and Energy in society.
  • Students will use their knowledge of Power and Energy to solve a given problem.
  • Standard(s): History and Nature of Technology; Design; Develop and Produce Products and Systems; Use and Management of Technology.
  • Objectives:

  • Students will identify historical milestones in Energy and Power that have extended people’s ability to modify the natural world.
  • Students will describe how a system functions in comparison to the Universal Systems Model (input, process, output, feedback).
  • Students will participate in the processing of exploring possible solutions by using the following skills and activities: brainstorming, creativity, investigating, diagnosing, planning, testing, evaluating procedures, etc.
  • Students will select and safely use appropriate resources, measuring devices, and tools in developing a product, process, or system.
  • Students will describe how a system functions in comparison to the Universal Systems Model (input, process, output, feedback).
  • Materials:


  • Potential Energy – Stored or motionless energy.
  • Kinetic Energy – Energy in motion.
  • Thermal Energy – The ability to do work in a thermal (heat producing) environment.
  • Chemical Energy – The ability to do work in a chemical environment.
  • Mechanical Energy – The ability to do work in a mechanical environment.
  • Radiant Energy – The ability to do work in a radiant (heat receptive) environment.
  • Electrical Energy – The ability to do work in a sub-atomic environment.
  • Nuclear Energy – The ability to do work in an atomic environment.
  • Mechanical Power – The rate of work done in a mechanical environment.
  • Fluid Power – The rate of work done in a fluid environment.
  • Electrical Power – The rate of work done in a sub-atomic environment.
  • Thermal Power – The rate of work done in a thermal (heat producing) environment.
  • Universal Systems Model – A model of a combination of parts that work together as a whole. There are four parts to the Universal Systems Model:
    • Input(s) – Things or ideas that go into a system that have a purpose.
    • Process(es) – What is done with the inputs.
    • Output(s) – The final results of the inputs being processed.
    • Feedback – Information about the other components of the System. Typically, this is to match that the output is what was wanted from the input.
  • Procedure:
    Day 1:
    Students will view two video segments (Overview of Energy–15:00 minutes and Conversion of Energy into Power–14:30 minutes). Note-taking is encouraged. Students will be given the What is Energy/What is Power study sheet for silent or group review for the remainder of the class period.

    Day 2:
    Review the previous day’s video and worksheet definitions, impacts, and histories. Give students a few minutes of study time (group or individual) to review notes, the study sheet, and class discussions. Administer the What is Energy/What is Power examination. Correct the examination and discuss principles presented by the examination.

    Days 3 & 4:
    Demonstrate different forms of Energy and Power (ideas for teachers):
    Energy :

    • Thermal Energy: heating different types of materials (Ex: heat expansion from TLC); bimetallic switch to turn on an electric motor; cooking food on a solar cooker / heating with a magnifying glass; shaping metal, welding, tempering, etc.
    • Chemical Energy: alkaline batteries; solid rocket propellent; explosives are stored Chemical Energy (not appropriate in school, however!).
    • Mechanical Energy: rubber band / compound bow (Potential / Kinetic); coil spring from a ball-point pen or an automobile (Potential / Kinetic); small pulleys/hoist/winch/gearbox (Potential / Kinetic).
    • Radiant Energy: greenhouses; terrariums; passive solar heaters.
    • Electrical Energy: computer; battery / generator / DC transformer; microwave.
    • Nuclear Energy: marbles (effect of the shooter marble hitting a group of marbles); bowling pins or Billiards (much the same as marbles); Fired-up about Fission Nuclear Simulator.

    Power :

    • Mechanical Power: (typical measurements are in watts and horsepower) – Mechanical work done by a device divided by the time it takes to do the work. The formula for Power in Linear Mechanical Systems is: P = (F x D) / t; where F = applied force, D = distance traveled, and t = time. [Examples: timing a student running up the stairs, across the lawn, etc; timing a Lego/Capsela designed car as it travels a specified distance.]
    • Fluid Power: (typical measurements are in watts and horsepower) – A measure of how fast fluid work is done. The formula for Power in Fluid Systems is: P = Fluid Work / time [Examples: timing a water pump to move a gallon of water; timing an air compressor to reach a specific PSI.]
    • Electrical Power: (typical measurements are in watts) – The electrical work done divided by the time it takes to do the work. The formula for Power in Electrical Systems is: P = Electrical Work / time [Examples: timing how long it takes to heat water with an electric heating element; interpreting the readings on a household electric bill.]
    • Thermal Power: (typical measurements are calories per second, or BTU’s) – How fast or how slow thermal energy flows from hot regions to cold regions. The formula for Power in Thermal Systems is: Q = H / t; where Q = heat-flow rate, H = heat energy moved, and t = time [Examples: timing the heating of air or water to a desired temperature; timing of turning bread to toast in a toaster.]

    Discuss the Universal Systems Model and apply the Model by using examples from the discussion of types of Energy and Power. Cite real-life technical applications and interrelationships between power systems (Mechanical, Fluid, Electrical, Thermal).

    Day 5:
    Review the Universal Systems Model. Give out the worksheet, Size Up the System. Correct and discuss the answers to the problems. Students should turn in the worksheet for grading. Introduce and discuss the problem-solving activity: The Notion of Motion. Assign groups for the activity (2-4 students per group). Begin group brainstorming, investigating, diagnosing, planning, testing, evaluating procedures, etc. for The Notion of Motion.

    Days 6-10:
    Continue development and refinement of the device required in The Notion of Motion activity. Conclude the activity by testing devices as per the grading criteria on the reverse side of The Notion of Motion assignment sheet. Assessment: As a result of participating in these activities, students will gain an awareness of the importance of Energy and of Power in society. Students will also be able to identify basic components of the Universal Systems model and apply the model to situations placed before them. Students should complete and turn in a Post-Activity Assessment Form (PAAF) prior to beginning a new activity.

    Useful Internet Resources:
    * International Technology Education Association

    * Technology Student Association

    Other Useful Resources:
    Suggested Video: Exploring Technology (1989, Agency for Instructional Technology) Year one: Exploring Tech. Ed., Section E: Energy, Power & Transportation, Unit E-1 ( Overview of Energy ) & Unit E-2 ( Conversion of Energy into Power ) **These videos will be copied free of charge (other than shipping) to Utah educators if a blank videotape(s) is sent with copy instructions to: Denny Stock, c/o Utah State Office of Education , 250 East 500 South, SLC, UT 84111

    Suggested Resource Texts: Technology Interactions (Glencoe) ISBN 0028387791; Introduction to Technology (Glencoe) ISBN 0028312759; Technology Today & Tomorrow (Glencoe) ISBN 0028386795; Understanding Technology (GoodHeart) ISBN 1566373743; Technology (Glencoe) ISBN 0827350988.