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Royal National Park Environmental Education Centre

Royal National Park Environmental Education Centre

Telephone02 9542 1951

Investigating energy

Science and technology – physical world

Program overview

Students explore energy and electricity, using a range of engaging resources, such as model generators, dynamos, solar ovens and solar panels. Students will learn about electricity generation, energy sources and energy transformations.

Session details

75 minutes. Up to 3 sessions (one class each) per day.

Key syllabus outcomes

  • Students plan and conduct scientific investigations to answer testable questions, and collect and summarise data to communicate conclusions (ST3-1WS-S)
  • Students explain how energy is transformed from one form to another (ST3-8PW-ST)
  • Students investigate the effects of increasing or decreasing the strength of a specific contact or non-contact force (ST3-9PW-ST)

Inquiry questions

  • How can we make a force stronger or weaker?
  • What types of energy transformations can be observed?
  • How can electricity be used in a product or system?


Describing and exploring specific forces


  • perform a scientific investigation to explore the effects of changing the strength of a single contact or non-contact force

Transfer and transformation of energy


  • identify different types of energy transformations
  • investigate how electrical energy can be transferred and transformed in electrical circuits and can be generated from a range of sources (ACSSU097) SciT SysT

Forces and energy in products and systems


  • describe examples where light, sound, heat and electrical energy transform from one type of energy to another

Learning experiences

Generating electricity

Students build an electricity generator using a coil of wire and a magnet. They identify the three variables: number or coils, strength of magnet and speed of relative motion. They choose one variable to change on their generator and measure the difference.

Students relate their model and a model generator to a power plant. Students identify that electricity is generated by turning a turbine (other than solar or battery) and in Australia a majority of electricity is produced by burning coal.

Energy sources

Students brainstorm and identify a range of energy sources. They observe a model wind generator and hydro generator. Students experiment with dynamo torches, model wind turbines and hand crank power generators.

Energy transformations

Students observe a variety of energy transformations through demonstration and hands-on models. They ride the energy bike to demonstrate the transformation of kinetic to electrical energy, along with observing the different amounts of energy to power different types of light globes. They use scientific metalanguage to describe various energy transformations. They observe the transformation of solar energy to heat energy by heating garlic bread in a solar oven.

Note: A great follow-up activity/STEM challenge is to research, design and build solar ovens in small groups. For a final competition the group that can melt a square of chocolate the quickest wins!