Teaching Forms of Energy: 6 Ideas that Engage Students

Teaching Forms of Energy blog header

Are you looking for ideas for teaching forms of energy? If so, you have come to the right place! In this blog post, we will explore six fun and engaging ideas that will help your students learn about energy in a meaningful way. Each of these activities is based on the MELTS acronym, which stands for mechanical, electrical, light, thermal, and sound energy. Let’s get started!

Don’t miss out on the FREE Forms of Energy Discussion cards at the end of this post!

Teaching Forms of Energy Idea #1: Scavenger Hunt

One way to help your students learn about energy is to create a classroom scavenger hunt. For this activity, students search the classroom for different objects that represent each type of energy. As your students find objects, they can write about them in their science notebooks. Have students name the object, what kind of energy it uses, and what kind of energy is produced. If students struggle, tell them to leave the parts they are unsure of blank.

When it seems that most of the class is finished or nearly finished, switch the activity to a cooperative learning strategy like Give One/Get One. This activity involves students pairing with other students to discuss and trade answers. If you have any students who need support, be sure they have at least one answer they feel comfortable with before having them partner with other students. This is a great way to get your students up and moving while they learn! Plus, there are a lot of benefits to having students verbalize their understanding of science concepts.

Teaching Forms of Energy: Do a Classroom Scavenger Hunt

2. Teaching Forms of Energy Ideas #2: Use Household Appliances

Another idea for teaching forms of energy is to bring in actual home appliances that use different forms of energy. For example, you could bring in a hair dryer to demonstrate how it uses electrical energy to produce heat energy. You could also bring in a flashlight to show how it uses battery power to create electrical energy, which then produces light energy. This is a great activity for getting your students hands-on with their learning! Students should record their observations and any connections they make in their science notebooks.

Here are a few ideas of appliances that work great for demonstrating different forms of energy:

  • toaster (electrical to thermal and light energy)
  • television (electrical to light, sound, and thermal)
  • tablet (chemical in the battery to electrical to light, sound, and thermal)
  • hair dryer (electrical to thermal, mechanical, and light)
  • table fan (electrical to mechanical)
Teaching Forms of Energy: Bring in Real Appliances

3. Teaching Forms of Energy Engaging Idea #3: Show Short Focused Videos

If you want to provide your students with a more visual explanation of energy, consider showing short videos that explain how we use different forms of energy in our everyday lives. There are many great videos available online, such as this one that describes and gives examples for each energy form in the acronym M.E.L.T.S. (mechanical, electrical, light, thermal, and sound energy).

After watching the video, have a discussion with your students about what they learned. You could also ask them to share examples of other places where they have seen each type of energy being used. This is a great way to help your students make connections between their everyday lives and the science concepts you are teaching.

Show Short Videos

4. Teaching Forms of Energy Effective Idea # 4: Reading Books and Nonfiction Texts

Another way to help your students learn about energy is to read nonfiction texts with them. As you read, stop and discuss the information with your students. Ask comprehension questions to make sure they are internalizing the information. This is a great way to provide your students with additional information about energy forms while fostering critical thinking skills.

Your school librarian is an often overlooked resource when planning for units. If you give your librarian some advance notice, they can pull books on forms of energy for students to browse during their checkout times. Some librarians will even work your topic into their weekly library lessons when they can. Don’t overlook this valuable resource.

Sharpen student reading skills with a short non-fiction text with comprehension questions. You can find a comprehension unit over Forms of Energy in my TpT shop or by clicking the image below.

Uses for Different Forms of Energy Comprehension Unit cover

5. Teaching Forms of Energy Effective Idea #5: Teacher Guided Notes

If you want to provide your students with a more guided learning experience, consider teaching forms of energy by using teacher-guided notes. This is a great way to ensure that your students understand the key concepts while also giving them the opportunity to take their own notes. Don’t want to create your own? No problem. Check out this set of Forms of Energy notes that includes a PowerPoint for you to project to guide students through the notes. I also have a set of notes that details how we use forms of energy in our everyday lives.

Teaching Forms of Energy: Teacher Guided Notes

Engaging Idea #6: Use Gamification to Maximize Learning

Gamification is a great way to help your students review what they have learned about energy forms. Not only is it a fun and engaging activity, but it also provides students with immediate feedback so they can see what they know and what they need to work on. There are many different ways you can gamify your energy unit. For example, escape rooms are popular right now. Your students will love the challenge of answering questions to discover a secret message. You could also have students play a board game where they have to answer questions about energy forms to move forward on the game board. Or, you could create a digital game using a tool like Quizizz.

Teaching Forms of Energy: Use Games as a Review Tool

7. Bonus: FREE Discussion Cards for Forms of Energy

If you are looking for a fun and easy way to help your students review energy forms, consider using discussion cards. They are a great way to get students talking and engaged in their learning. Plus, they are a great way to review key concepts. I have created a set of free discussion cards that you can use in your classroom. They cover all the different types of energy and provide examples of how we use them in our everyday lives.

Forms of Energy Discussion Card resource image.

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