Science Reasoning Center - Energy

Here is our current listing of Science Reasoning activities for Work and Energy. All activities can be used as a Guest without Task Tracker or as a logged-in student with Task Tracker. Learn more about Task Tracker for Science Reasoning activities.


Push the Plow

Push the Plow describes a set of three experiments in which a marble rolls down an incline, collides with a note card (the plow), and pushes the note card across a level surface until it stops. This five-part activity addresses student's ability to understand the design of an experiement, to identify evidence-based claims, to use proportional reasoning skills to determine relationships between variables, and to predict the result of additional trials.


It's All Uphill

The It's All Uphill describes a set of three experiments in which a cart is pulled up an inclined plane at a constant speed to a seat top of a fixed height. Trials are repeated for varying incline angles. The force and distance are measured and the work is calculated for each incline angle. The differing experiments use different massed carts and involve pulling the cart to a different height seat top. The four parts of this activity target a student's ability to draw accurate conclusions from the data, to generate a model that explains such conclusions, to revise the model to explain a similar phenomenon that has a slight variation to it, and to use words to explain the reasoning behind the conclusions of the lab.


Energy on an Inclined Plane

This NGSS-inspired task describes an experiment in which students use a motion detector to study the changes in the kinetic and potential energy of a cart that rolls up and down an inclined plane. Information is presented in the form of a position-time graph and a velocity-time graph. The five parts of this task target a student's ability to make decisions regarding the design of the investigation, perform energy calculations from collected data, use an energy model to interpret the findings and to describe and explain the energy changes that are occurring, and evaluate a collection of claims regarding energy associated with the phenomenon.


Modeling Roller Coasters

In this NGSS-inspired task on the topic of roller coaster physics, students are presented numerous question types that target their ability to develop and use energy models to explain how energy is transformed between kinetic and potential energy. Exercises within the task include three Matching Pair exercises, three Paragraph Completion exercises, a Ranking Task exercise, a Table Completion exercise, and a Law Breaker exercise.


Hot Wheels Stopping Distance

This NGSS-inspired task describes an experiment in which students release a Hot Wheels car from various locations along an inclined track and measure its speed at the bottom and the distance it slides upon hitting a box. Data is presented in the form of a diagram of the experimental set up and a data table. Questions target a student's ability to plan an investigation, to identify the effect (both qualitatively and quantitatively) of one variable upon another variable, to use the pattern in the data to make predictions by interpolation and extrapolation, to apply the speed-stopping distance relationship, and to use an energy model to explain the experimental results.

The Bat-Ball Collision

This activity describes a spring model for explaining the collsion between a bat and ball in baseball. Two graphs, an equation and a diagram are used to present information about the transfer and the transformation of energy that occurs during the collision. Questions target a student's ability to make predictions based on an equation, to select values from a graph, to reason towards conclusions that are consistent with a model, and to combine information from two data presentations in order to identify an appropriate conclusion.

Energy Stored in Fields

This NGSS-inspired task engages students in an analysis of two situations involving the storage of energy in electric and magnetic fields. The first situation involves an electric charge suspended from a string and moving within the electric field created by a large positive charge. The second situation involves two magnetic carts moving along a horizontal track that includes some friction.


Thermal Equilibrium

This NGSS-inspired task describes a collection of experiments in which students mix unequal-mass samples of hot and cold water together and monitor the temperature until thermal equilibrium is reached. The task consists of five different activities, each taking a different angle on the experiments. Students ponder experimental design decisions, data analysis challenges, and other questions that can be asked and experimentally answered with the same or similar equipment.

(This activity is stored in our Thermal Physics section.)