Unit Overview

In Mosa Mack’s Evidence of Energy Transfer unit, students are led through a progression of three inquiry lessons that focus on the identification of different forms of energy and conversion of energy from one form to another.

Lesson Overview

Medium solveEnergy Transfer Message Mystery
Medium makeDiscover Types of Energy Transfer
Medium engineerEnergy Transfer System

Students work together to complete an Evidence of Energy Transfer vocabulary Mind Map before helping JoJo and Felix resolve a family feud. By the end of The Solve, students discovery that energy can exist in many forms and can transfer from one form to another, especially when being used as a communication tool. (40–75 mins)

Students explore evidence to show that different types of energy exist and can be transferred from place to place. The types of energy transfer include light, heat, electrical, energy of motion, and sound. (140–145 mins)

Students construct a Rube Goldberg machine that can demonstrate a chain reaction system with at least two energy transfers. (170–215 mins)

Next Generations Science Standards

Use evidence to construct an explanation relating the speed of an object to the energy of that object. [Assessment Boundary: Assessment does not include quantitative measures of changes in the speed of an object or on any precise or quantitative definition of energy.
Make observations to provide evidence that energy can be transferred from place to place by sound, light, heat, and electric currents. [Assessment Boundary: Assessment does not include quantitative measurements of energy.]
Ask questions and predict outcomes about the changes in energy that occur when objects collide. [Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on the change in the energy due to the change in speed, not on the forces, as objects interact.] [Assessment Boundary: Assessment does not include quantitative measurements of energy.]
Apply scientific ideas to design, test, and refine a device that converts energy from one form to another.* [Clarification Statement: Examples of devices could include electric circuits that convert electrical energy into motion energy of a vehicle, light, or sound; and, a passive solar heater that converts light into heat. Examples of constraints could include the materials, cost, or time to design the device.] [Assessment Boundary: Devices should be limited to those that convert motion energy to electric energy or use stored energy to cause motion or produce light or sound.]

Science & Engineering Practices

  • Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions
  • Planning and Carrying Out Investigations

Disciplinary Core Ideas

  • Conservation of Energy and Energy Transfer
  • Defining Engineering Problems
  • Definitions of Energy
  • Energy in Chemical Processes and Everyday Life
  • Information Technologies and Instrumentation
  • Optimizing the Design Solution
  • Relationship Between Energy and Forces

Cross Cutting Concepts

  • Energy and Matter
  • Influence of Science, Engineering, and Technology on Society and the Natural World
  • Science is a Human Endeavor

Inquiry Scale

  • Each lesson in the unit has an Inquiry Scale that provides directions on how to implement the lesson at the level that works best for you and your students.
  • “Level 1” is the most teacher-driven, and recommended for students in 4th-5th grades. “Level 4” is the most student-driven, and recommended for students in 7th-8th grades.
  • For differentiation within the same grade or class, use different inquiry levels for different groups of students who may require additional support or an extra challenge.

Common Misconceptions

  • Students may not have considered that there are many forms of energy. Remind students that energy can take various forms including sound, heat, light, motion, electrical, and more.
  • Students may believe that energy is a force. Energy and force are related. Energy is the ability to do work, and work is done when a force is used to change the position of an object.
  • Students may think that all energy is affirmed by observing movement. Remind students that objects that are not moving may have potential energy, or stored energy, like in batteries or in a pile driver in a high position.


  • Powerpoints for Make and Design
  • Vocabulary Cards
  • Solve Student Handout
  • Make Student Handout
  • Design Student Handout
  • Vocabulary Mind Map