Science in Action – K is for Kinetic Energy

Mommy Crusader Preschool Units, School, STEAM, summer 2 Comments

Our next STEAM unit in our home studies this summer is all things related to K. Our first topic we studied was our Science in Action – K is for kinetic energy. We worked on exploring how the energy an object possesses while moving (kinetic energy) affects other objects.

My family had a lot of fun working on this experience one afternoon. We performed nine separate experiments, and had some interesting results. My children really enjoyed being allowed to throw things around and liked being able to make some of the decisions in the activity. My fifth grader commented, after her second attempt, how for the second try she “added more kinetic energy” that time.

Objective: to help children understand that kinetic energy is the energy that a object possesses while in motion.

Kinetic energy – the energy that an object possesses while in motion

One recording page for each child/team, available here.

Ten water bottles, unopened
Rocks or croquet balls, or other heavy round objects

Begin by explaining that the children are going to be doing an experiment with kinetic energy. They are going to see how many water bottles they can knock down using the kinetic energy when a ball, or other heavy round object, is thrown. Also, explain to the children what kinetic energy is. My fifth grader started tossing the ball back and forth while saying, “I’m using kinetic energy to move this ball.”

Next, pass the recording page to the children. The recording page is set up so that teams of children can complete this activity. If there aren’t enough children to make teams, just repeat the experience a few times while letting a different child be responsible for making the setup decisions. We repeated the experiment giving each child the opportunity to choose how to set it up. The child making the choices was called the “team captain”.

Here my fifth grader wanted to see what would happen if the bottles were lined up in a straight line.

Now, tell the children they need to set up the bottles of water. They can set them up anyway the “team captain” wants to have them set up. Record how the water bottles were set up and how many water bottles were used on the recording page. My children tried setting the bottles up as a triangle, square, straight line and circle. We also used any number of bottles – from one to all of them.

Have the “team captain” stand back about 10 feet (shorter for younger children) and have him or her roll or throw the ball into the water bottles.  Count how many were knocked down and record that on the recording page. Repeat this step until every child has had a turn to be the “team captain”.

My preschooler is trying out how a circle of water bottles will react to the kinetic energy in the croquet ball.

After recording the results, take a moment and find the averages from the experiments, then discuss what those averages show. We noticed that the more bottles we set out, the more we knocked over. We also noticed that the shape the bottles were in didn’t have as much bearing on the result as we thought.

My children really enjoyed this activity. They liked that they got to make most of the decisions about how the activity was set up. They also thought it was cool how they were able to knock over so many water bottles with only one throw.

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