Lesson Transformed: Grade 6 Science

This is the sixth lesson in the series, Lesson Transformed, in which traditional lessons are transformed into engaging experiences for students which exemplify the premises of the Visioning Document.

Lesson #6

Topic: Force, Motion, and Energy (Potential and Kinetic Energy)

Grade Level: 6

Content Area: Science


Traditional Lesson

Objective: The students will be able to compare and contrast potential and kinetic energy.

Materials: Potential and Kinetic Energy: Image Sort (1 copy per pair of students), children’s toys (at least one per pair of students, such as: balls, cars, game pieces).

Warm Up: Students will watch the Potential and Kinetic Energy video (link).  

Lesson: Students define vocabulary terms in their science notebooks:

  1. Energy- the ability to do work
  2. Potential energy- energy that is stored
  3. Kinetic energy- energy that is in motion

With a partner, students cut apart the images from Potential and Kinetic Energy: Image Sort.  Then, sort the images into two categories: Potential and Kinetic.

Screen Shot 2016-06-26 at 6.56.04 PM

Investigation: In pairs, students will select one children’s toy and collaborate to present the toy as exhibiting either potential or kinetic energy.  One pair at a time will share their toy and demonstrate/explain the type of energy.

Exit Ticket: Compare and contrast potential and kinetic energy.


Transformed Lesson

Objective: The students will create evidence of understanding potential and kinetic energy’s similarities and differences.

Explore: Students launch Energy in a Roller Coster Ride from PBS LearningMedia (link).  They watch the kinetic and potential energy, displayed in a pie chart, increase and decrease respectively, as the cars travel along the roller coaster.

*Note: This interactive may be flipped so students may watch and re-watch prior to class.  This is an example of content that may be shared with parents as well in order to encourage conversation about science at home.

Read: Students read Forms of Energy from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (link) and make notes using an annotation app such as Evernote or Notability.  

*Note: This website contains a wealth of teacher resources and classroom activities, primary through secondary.

Discussion/Formative Assessment: Students define vocabulary terms in their science notebooks:

  1. Energy- the ability to do work
  2. Potential energy- energy that is stored
  3. Kinetic energy- energy that is in motion

Students cut apart the images from Potential and Kinetic Energy: Image Sort.  Then, sort the images into two categories: Potential and Kinetic, and paste into their science notebooks.

Screen Shot 2016-06-26 at 6.56.04 PM
link to access

*Note: This formative assessment piece may be used as needed to gauge student understanding of the content thus far in the lesson.

Create: Using a creation app such as iMovie or iMotion, students create their own movie modeling kinetic and potential energy with examples of both.  Encourage students to use unique examples that are important to themselves.

Set up an opportunity to share student-created movies such as QR codes or posting the movies on student blogs.

*Note: Using QR codes or providing opportunities for students to share their products on their blogs promotes publishing to a greater audience beyond the teacher.

This transformed lesson was inspired by TASA on iTunes U: Science, Grade 6 – Force and Motion (Potential and Kinetic Energy).


It is the goal of this blog series to equip teachers with skills to transfer understanding and transform their own lesson design.

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