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What Are the Forms of Energy?

written by: Kathy Foust • edited by: Beth Taylor • updated: 1/17/2012

We are aware of various forms of energy in the world. To introduce your students to them, you can use this lesson plan. It provides a brief overview of the different types of energy.

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    When you discuss energy with your students, they may each have their own concept of energy in mind. Encourage students to explore these ideas by introducing them to the various forms of energy and asking them to discuss examples of how each type of energy may be used in their daily lives.

    • Introduce thermal energy to your students as energy that becomes associated with potential energy and chemical energy on a molecular level. What are some examples of thermal energy? Some possible answers are boilers, coal driven trains and the thermal energy in your own body.
    • Discuss electrical energy to your students by explaining to them that electrical energy is energy that is associated with electrical currents. What are some examples of electrical energy? Students may answer with such things as electric motors, light bulbs and battery powered toys.
    • Instruct your students that chemical energy is energy that is associated with the energy created by chemical bonding. What are some examples of chemical energy? Some examples are furnaces, photosynthesis and automobile air bags.
    • Describe radiant energy to your students as electromagnetic radiation. This is the energy produced by unseen waves that transfer energy. What are some examples of radiant energy? Some forms of radiant energy are microwaves, radio waves and television waves.
    • Talk about nuclear energy to your students by explaining that nuclear energy is a rearrangement of nuclear particles that result in a release of energy. What are some examples of nuclear energy? Some acceptable answers are nuclear bombs, nuclear power plants and various medical procedures such as CAT scans.

    When you have finished introducing the various forms of energy to your students, move on to the next section of this energy lesson plan.This section will help you to assess how well students understand the information they have been given.

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    Name the Form of Energy

    To test students' understanding of forms of energy, read off the list below to see if students can name what form of energy this describes. Add other descriptions as needed to help students to further understand the various forms of energy.

    • microwave oven
    • toaster
    • nuclear reactor
    • solar panels
    • x-rays
    • burning fuel

    Again, if students seem confused by the various forms of energy, discuss other items that use energy. The best way to help students understand difficult concepts is by relating those concepts to the world as they know it.

Energy Lesson Plans

This series of energy lesson plans explores the conept of energy complete with energy formula study guides.
  1. Introduction to Energy
  2. What Are the Forms of Energy?
  3. Teaching About Conservation of Energy
  4. What is Potential Energy?
  5. What is Mechanical Kinetic Energy?