Energy in particular is an interesting topic for young kids, because everything in their world demonstrates the various types of energy. When kids throw a ball, jump in the air or go to the theme park with the family and ride a roller coaster, they are experiencing energy in all of its forms.
The key to helping kids start to appreciate the different forms of energy, like potential or kinetic energy, is to show them how those everyday activities demonstrate different energy types.
One good place to start is with kinetic energy, and one great way to introduce kids to kinetic energy is online activities and games. The following six website offer some great tools to introduce kids to one of the most fun forms of energy to play with.
NeoK12 is a popular educational website that covers content appropriate for ages ranging from Kindergarten all the way through High School. It's a website that offers educational presentations, fun learning games, and of course collections of videos that can come in handy in the classroom.
NeoK12 Kinetic Energy Videos
NeoK12 offers about nineteen videos that have been reviewed by K-12 teachers, and would be perfect to play in any science classroom. Titles range across topics like "Work and Energy", "Gravity", "Kinetic Energy", and "Potential Energy".
Using these videos in coordination with lecture and classroom experiments can form a well-rounded introduction to the physics of kinetic energy, as well as all other forms of energy discussed in a Physics curriculum.
One of the best sites that always offers great interactive content that kids love is PBS Kids, so it should come as no surprise that PBS Kids also offers one of the best interactive activities to demonstrate kinetic energy to children.
The activity is called the "Whoahler Coaster!", and it is a part of the PBS Kids collection of fun and educational games.
PBS Kids Whoahler Coaster!
This coaster game provides a great challenge, where students need to learn how to handle the buildup of potential energy and the release of kinetic energy in a safe way that won't harm the coaster riders.
Testing the Whoahler Coaster!
Each test of the coaster shows kids what can happen if you don't make sure that the change from potential to kinetic is gradual enough.
Pete's Power Point Station is an interesting educational website that offers a very wide assortment of powerpoint presentations for the classroom as well as free interactive activities for kids.
The site offers one entire section devoted to Matter & Energy, with about nine powerpoint presentations you can use to present the idea of Kinetic energy in the classroom, and there are also links to energy games for kids, as well as links to lesson plans and energy video clips for teachers.
Energy Powerpoint Presentations
The Powerpoint Presentations are well made and offer an average of 20 slides each, that teachers can tailor with notes or additional text if they desire. The slideshow presentations explain how things like potential and kinetic energy work, and also provides live photos of energy at work in the real world.
Some of the best educational videos were actually produced as part of a Canadian educational television program from the 1980s called "Eureka!"
The show consisted of animated shorts that taught young viewers important lessons in the field of Physics. Animated Science, a UK based website, brings back a series of 30 of these animated shorts that describe everything about Force and Energy.
Eureka Physics Shorts
These animated shorts can be selected by typing in the topic number into the field at the bottom of the viewer window. The show will appear in the embedded video player on the web page, which also includes play/stop controls and a volume setting. There is also a link at the bottom of the page to switch the display to fullscreen mode, which is perfect for displaying the videos on a projector screen in the classroom.
PBS has always been a valued resource of information and teaching materials in the educational community. When it comes to teaching about energy in the classroom, PBS doesn't disappoint.
On the PBS LearningMedia resource, there is a section titled "Energy in a Roller Coaster Ride", which uses the fun activity of riding a roller coaster to present the concepts of potential and kinetic energy to students.
Clicking the play button on the video image on the page brings students to an interactive roller coaster video.
PBS Interactive Roller Coaster Video
This video lets students step through each stage of the roller coaster ride and view the percentage of potential versus kinetic energy at that stage in the ride along with the actual speed of the cart itself.
While the energy roller coaster ride serves as the centerpiece of this page, the web page also offers other valuable resources like curriculum topics, support materials like classroom questions and essays, and related content links.
One more site that can provide fantastic resources for teaching about potential and kinetic energy in your classroom is WatchKnowLearn.org. This website offers a nice collection of educational videos across a large assortment of content subjects, such as life sciences, chemistry and of course physics.
Under the Potential and Kinetic Energy section, you'll find two pages of videos created by organizations like Scholastic Media, NASA, Jason Science and more.
Watch Know Learn Videos
While you could probably find these videos yourself at different sites throughout the web, but accessing them using the Watch Know Learn directory will save you a whole lot of time. As an educator, you can devote that time to more important things like developing your lesson plans and grading papers!
As you can see, there are lots of resources on the web that offer fun activities you can do with your students to each about kinetic energy in the classroom. These activities include things like watching in-classroom videos, playing online games or reading educational articles about the difference between types of energy, and how things like kinetic energy come into play in the real world.