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Energizing Everything Unit
How long did it take to travel across the country before cars and planes?
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How long did it take to travel across the country before cars and planes?
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DISCUSS:

What’s one place you’d like to visit in your life? How would you travel there?

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DISCUSS:

How could this device be useful?

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DISCUSS:

Moving air makes the spinner move. Does that give you any ideas about how heat could make the spinner move?

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If you need a natural stopping point!

Teachers: If you are short on time, this is a good stopping point. You can experiment with heat on another day.

If you’re continuing right now, advance to the next slide.

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You've completed the Exploration & Activity!

If you have more time, view the assessment, reading, and extension activity in the extensions.

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Extensions

Below are ideas for extending this topic beyond the Exploration and Activity you just completed.
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Activity: Penny Popper

Can you make a penny move without touching it? Set up this simple activity station in your classroom to find out.

Print out the instructions here .

See an example of the penny moving and a variation on the experiment setup in this teacher video. (1:36, Keith Ramsay)

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Watch, Read, & Discuss: Steam Locomotives at Work

Check out this clip (1:20, Ultimate Restorations) to see how steam can make a train go. Then find out what it’s like to be the train’s engineer in this video (4:44, PSOV Mainline) about driving the Duke of Gloucester, a steam-powered locomotive in Great Britain.

If you want to go further, have students read this article to explore the history of the steam engine and its importance during the Industrial Revolution. A recording and quiz are included.

Then discuss: Imagine you’re living in the 1800s and can ride trains for the first time. How would you feel about traveling this new way? How do you think your life might change?

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Watch & Read: Hot Air Rising

How does a hot-air balloon work? Watch this video (1:37), and then read the online book How Does It Fly: Hot Air Balloon to find out. Included in the book are a glossary, creative mini-projects, and questions that can spark class discussions. (Ages 7–9; Both free with registration as an educator on Get Epic!)

When you’re done, take a moment to appreciate the beauty of the sport with this time-lapse video of a hot-air balloon festival in New Mexico. Watch for the bursts of flame that heat the air in each craft’s “envelope,” and see the sky fill with colorful, gigantic balloons. (2:42, NatGeo)

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Resource: Books Your Students Might Like

For the adventurous readers in your class, this selection of books offers ideas for exploring the steampunk world of science fiction. Students can delve into fantastical adventures that mix Victorian-age technologies and sensibilities with futuristic science, all driven by steam power. (Ages 8+)

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Overview
Grade 4th
Topic Energy, Motion, & Electricity
Focus Heat Energy & Energy Transfer
Print Prep
Activity Prep

In this Mystery, students explore how heat is another form of energy that can make things go. In the activity, Heat Spinner, students first make a paper Heat Spinner and observe how air can create movement. Then, students use their Heat Spinners to experiment with a heat source (an incandescent bulb) and discover how heat energy can make the spinner move in different ways.

Preview activity

Number of students:
Do Not Touch The Light Bulb! worksheet
You need 1 sign for each Heat Spinner Station with a lamp.
Print 1 copy
Get to Know Your Spinner worksheet Print 15 copies
Heat Spinners worksheet Print 8 copies
Inventing a Heat Engine worksheet Print 30 copies
Desk Lamp
Used as a heat source for Experimental Stations. Heat gel packs like these can also work, but they’ll only stay warm for 30 minutes.
Details
2 lamps
Rulers
30 rulers
Scissors
30 pairs
Paper Cups (8 oz)
15 cups
Pencils w/ Erasers
15 pencils
Pipe Cleaners
15 pipe cleaners
Push Pins
15 pins
Rubber Bands (#32)
30 bands
Incandescent Bulbs (40W)
Not needed if you're using heat gel packs as a heat source.
Details
2 bulbs
Prep Instructions

In Part 1 of this activity, we recommend students work in pairs. In Part 2 of this activity, we recommend students work in groups of four. Homeschool students can work on their own, but will need someone to help with a few of the steps.

You need to set up at least two Experimental Stations with a heat source (a desk lamp with an incandescent bulb or a heated gel pack. You can heat the gel packs in the microwave, but they’ll only stay warm for about 30 minutes). For a class of 32 students, we recommend having two or more Experimental Stations. Four students will use each station at a time. When students are not using the Experimental Stations, they will be discussing ideas at their desks.

Plan Your Time

Part 1 (building a Heat Spinner) takes 15 to 20 minutes. Part 2 (experimenting with the Heat Spinners) takes another 15 to 20 minutes.

You may want to divide this lesson into two sessions, stopping after Part 1 and continuing with the Experimental Stations another day. If you plan to do the activity in two sessions, Part 2 begins here.

Prepare Push Pins (Optional)

Push each push pin into the eraser of a pencil. This makes the push pins easier for students to handle.

Prepare the Worksheets

Cut each “Get to Know Your Spinners” printout on the dotted line. Each student needs a half sheet. Cut each “Heat Spinners” printout on the dotted line. Each pair of students needs a half sheet. Cut the “Do Not Touch the Light Bulb!” printout on the dotted line to make two signs. You need one sign for each Experimental Station with a lamp.

Set Up Your Experiment Stations

To set up each station, place your heat source on a table away from drafts. If you are using a lamp as a heat source, put the “Do Not Touch the Light Bulb!” sign beside the lamp, plug the lamp in, and let it warm up for a few minutes before students experiment. If you’re using heat gel packs, heat them in the microwave right before class.

Watch Our Video for An Important Tip

Watch this video and notice when the spinner moves and when it stops. The spinner moves because rising hot air pushes on it. That rising air has to come from somewhere. In the video, the spinner moves when there’s a gap between the heat source and the cup. Cool air moves through this gap and replaces the rising hot air. This is called the “chimney effect,” and it can make a big difference in how much the spinner moves. We like to use a lamp because students usually don’t set the cup directly on top of the heat source. If you use a gel pack or some other heat source, be aware that closing off the bottom of the cup completely can stop the circulation of air and therefore the movement of your spinner.

Overview
Grade 4th
Topic Energy, Motion, & Electricity
Focus Heat Energy & Energy Transfer
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