My students have been doing research on power plants to study how electricity is generated and to continue taking an energy perspective in analyzing the natural (and unnatural) world. This week they created energy LOL diagrams to detail the energy transfer process in the power plant. These diagrams involve an initial bar graph to show the amount and type of energy at the start of a process, a circle where the system is defined and any energy that enters of leaves the system is diagrammed, and a final bar chart to show the amount and type of energy at the end of the process.
I’m amazed at how well the task to create these diagrams forced students to understand the step by step process of their power plant. At the end of the period, all students were able to explain how their power plant worked with confidence. In all of my classes there were so many “aha” moments when students recognized patterns and realized they understood how it all worked.
In the following class, students used their energy LOL diagrams to develop and perform skits that detailed the energy transfer process in their power plant. Students have done energy skits before (Energy Theatre) for simpler problems. This day went really well because students were just talking to each other about the energy transfer process in their power plants and worked to come up with movements. I mostly just monitored students and assisted occasionally when needed. There were several students who got really into it and gave me high fives afterwards.
In one of my classes there were only about 10 students since the older students were taking CST tests. These students were in four different groups that had different power plants. For this day, students had to teach the rest of the class their process, then as a whole class they came up with a skit. They did this for all four power plants, which really drove home the point that spinning turbines were in all of the power plants and many of them used some sort of fuel to create steam to spin those turbines. It was really fun watching the students work together in the smaller class setting and help create skits for power plants that they haven’t been studying.
At the very end of the day, students wrote down similarities and differences between the skits as a way to reflect and have that information stored in their notebooks to be used at a later date. Many students said they had fun and I got fantastic videos of each performance.