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This Java simulation lets learners explore how heating and cooling adds or removes energy. Use a slider to heat blocks of iron or brick to see the energy flow. Next, build your own system to convert mechanical, light, or chemical energy into electrical or thermal energy. The simulation allows students to visualize energy transformation and describe how energy flows in various systems. Through examples from everyday life, it also bolsters understanding of conservation of energy.

This item is part of a larger collection of simulations developed by the Physics Education Technology project (PhET).
Editor's Note: In the pre-high school grades, students often struggle to understand the interactions that underlie energy transformation. This simple, yet thought-provoking simulation allows them to "see" the flow of energy through a real-life system -- from start to finish. They can choose sunlight, steam, flowing water, or mechanical energy to power their systems.
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Classical Mechanics
- Work and Energy
= Conservation of Energy
= Mechanical Power
Thermo & Stat Mech
- First Law
= Heat Transfer
- Second and Third Law
= Entropy
- Thermal Properties of Matter
= Temperature
- Middle School
- Elementary School
- Instructional Material
= Activity
= Interactive Simulation
Appropriate Courses Categories Ratings
- Physical Science
- Physics First
- Activity
- New teachers
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Intended Users:
Learner
Educator
Formats:
application/java
text/html
Access Rights:
Free access
Restriction:
© 2013 PHET; University of Colorado at Boulder
Additional information is available.
Keywords:
Conservation Law, Law of Conservation, energy flow, energy forms, energy types, modeling energy flow, thermal energy
Record Cloner:
Metadata instance created April 25, 2013 by Caroline Hall
Record Updated:
April 26, 2013 by Caroline Hall

AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008 Version)

4. The Physical Setting

4D. The Structure of Matter
  • 6-8: 4D/M3ab. Atoms and molecules are perpetually in motion. Increased temperature means greater average energy of motion, so most substances expand when heated.
  • 6-8: 4D/M3cd. In solids, the atoms or molecules are closely locked in position and can only vibrate. In liquids, they have higher energy, are more loosely connected, and can slide past one another; some molecules may get enough energy to escape into a gas. In gases, the atoms or molecules have still more energy and are free of one another except during occasional collisions.
4E. Energy Transformations
  • 3-5: 4E/E2a. When warmer things are put with cooler ones, the warmer things get cooler and the cooler things get warmer until they all are the same temperature.
  • 3-5: 4E/E2b. When warmer things are put with cooler ones, heat is transferred from the warmer ones to the cooler ones.
  • 6-8: 4E/M1. Whenever energy appears in one place, it must have disappeared from another. Whenever energy is lost from somewhere, it must have gone somewhere else. Sometimes when energy appears to be lost, it actually has been transferred to a system that is so large that the effect of the transferred energy is imperceptible.
  • 6-8: 4E/M2. Energy can be transferred from one system to another (or from a system to its environment) in different ways: 1) thermally, when a warmer object is in contact with a cooler one; 2) mechanically, when two objects push or pull on each other over a distance; 3) electrically, when an electrical source such as a battery or generator is connected in a complete circuit to an electrical device; or 4) by electromagnetic waves.
  • 6-8: 4E/M4. Energy appears in different forms and can be transformed within a system. Motion energy is associated with the speed of an object. Thermal energy is associated with the temperature of an object. Gravitational energy is associated with the height of an object above a reference point. Elastic energy is associated with the stretching or compressing of an elastic object. Chemical energy is associated with the composition of a substance. Electrical energy is associated with an electric current in a circuit. Light energy is associated with the frequency of electromagnetic waves.
  • 6-8: 4E/M6. Light and other electromagnetic waves can warm objects. How much an object's temperature increases depends on how intense the light striking its surface is, how long the light shines on the object, and how much of the light is absorbed.

11. Common Themes

11B. Models
  • 3-5: 11B/E4. Models are very useful for communicating ideas about objects, events, and processes. When using a model to communicate about something, it is important to keep in mind how it is different from the thing being modeled.
  • 6-8: 11B/M4. Simulations are often useful in modeling events and processes.

NSES Content Standards

Con.B: Physical Science
  • 5-8: Motion & Forces
  • 9-12: Motions & Forces
  • 9-12: Conservation of Energy & Increase in Disorder

This resource is part of 2 Physics Front Topical Units.


Topic: Conservation of Energy
Unit Title: Energy Transformation

This simple, yet thought-provoking simulation helps students to "see" the flow of energy through a real-life system -- from start to finish. They can choose sunlight, steam, flowing water, or mechanical energy to power their systems. Very effective way to visualize energy transformation and a great way to introduce the Law of Conservation of Energy.

Link to Unit:

Topic: Conservation of Energy
Unit Title: Teaching Energy in the Elementary Grades

This simple, yet thought-provoking simulation helps students to "see" the flow of energy through a real-life system -- from start to finish. They can choose sunlight, steam, flowing water, or mechanical energy to power their systems. Very effective way to visualize energy transformation and a great way to introduce the Law of Conservation of Energy.

Link to Unit:
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Record Link
AIP Format
(Physics Education Technology Project, Boulder, 2013), WWW Document, (http://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/energy-forms-and-changes).
AJP/PRST-PER
PhET Simulation: Energy Forms and Changes, (Physics Education Technology Project, Boulder, 2013), <http://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/energy-forms-and-changes>.
APA Format
PhET Simulation: Energy Forms and Changes. (2013). Retrieved October 30, 2014, from Physics Education Technology Project: http://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/energy-forms-and-changes
Chicago Format
Physics Education Technology Project. PhET Simulation: Energy Forms and Changes. Boulder: Physics Education Technology Project, 2013. http://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/energy-forms-and-changes (accessed 30 October 2014).
MLA Format
PhET Simulation: Energy Forms and Changes. Boulder: Physics Education Technology Project, 2013. 30 Oct. 2014 <http://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/energy-forms-and-changes>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Title = {PhET Simulation: Energy Forms and Changes}, Publisher = {Physics Education Technology Project}, Volume = {2014}, Number = {30 October 2014}, Year = {2013} }
Refer Export Format

%T PhET Simulation: Energy Forms and Changes
%D 2013
%I Physics Education Technology Project
%C Boulder
%U http://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/energy-forms-and-changes
%O application/java

EndNote Export Format

%0 Electronic Source
%D 2013
%T PhET Simulation: Energy Forms and Changes
%I Physics Education Technology Project
%V 2014
%N 30 October 2014
%9 application/java
%U http://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/energy-forms-and-changes


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Oct 3 - Jan 31, 2014