Energy exchange

What you do:

Understand how energy moves from one form to another using littleBits! In this activity we will stored energy (batteries), solar energy, and mechanical energy into electricity.

What you need:

Per group:

  • littleBits:
    • Power Bit
    • USB Power Bit
    • Fan Bit
    • Wire Bit
    • Long LED Bit
    • Buzzer Bit
    • Bargraph Bit
  • 9V batteries
  • Solar panels with USB outputs (can be shared between groups)
  • Hand crank flashlights with USB output (can be shared between groups)

Media

Activity

Have the students explore the different ways they can turn on different littleBits components. Can they turn on an LED with a battery? How about with a solar panel in the sun? In the dark? How hard to they have to turn a hand crank to get it to power these circuits?

Ask the students about the different types of energy going into these circuits (electrical, solar, mechanical) and the different types coming out (light and mechanical). Can they think of other types of energy conversion in their daily lives?

Mighty Mix-up – Chemical potential energy

What you do:

Learn about chemical potential energy! Many chemicals store energy, which can be released when mixed. In this activity, we mix chemicals and observe the change in temperature.


This activity is also a good opportunity to emphasize safety and good scientific technique. Mixing chemicals can create unexpected results, so students should only do so under adult supervision. Calcium chloride can be toxic if ingested, so please review the MSDS before using. Mixing these chemicals can cause splashing so safety goggles are recommended.

What you need:

Lesson plan

Worksheet

  • Thermometer (1 per group)
  • Dixie cup (2 per group)
  • Plastic cup, clear, 8-12 oz (2 per group)
  • Baking soda (1.5 Tbsp per group)
  • Vinegar (1/4 cup per group)
  • Calcium chloride (1 tbsp per group)
  • Water (1/4 cup per group)
  • Plastic bowl (1 per group)
  • Marking pen (1 per class)
  • Tablespoon (1 per class)
  • Quarter cup measure (1 per class)

LittleBits Introduction

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What You Do:

Explore circuits and their components.

Use the engineering design process to solve a problem.

Build functional circuits with LittleBits.

Lesson and media based off the material available at the LittleBits website.

Recommended Lead-Up Lesson: Circular Circuits

MagLev Trains

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What You Do:

Explore how scale models are built and used.

Learn about and apply magnetic properties.

Implement the engineering design process to problem solve.

Build a magnetically levitating “train”.

Mentos Madness

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What You Do:

Explore nucleation.

Practice developing and testing a hypothesis.

Drop Mentos into soda to see what happens!

Electromagnetism

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What You Do:

Explore the effects of electricity on materials.

Build a circuit to turn a nail into a magnet.

Test how difference circuits influence the magnetism of the nail.

Recommended Lead-Up Lesson: Sticky Static, Circular Circuits, Magic Magnets

Circular Circuits

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What You Do:

Learn about how electrons move through a circuit.

Build a circuit to light a light bulb.

Build a circuit to test objects for conductivity.

Recommended Lead-Up Lesson: Sticky Static

Sticky Static

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What You Do:

Learn about the structure and components of an atom.

Explore the idea and effects of static.

Build a static structure to make static.

Check for Charge (Static Electricity)

What You Do:

Discuss “charge” and electron flow through conductive material.

Build an electroscope to detect charge in various classroom materials.

Test classroom materials for the ability to hold charge.

Recommended Lead-Up Lesson: Sticky Static
See the rest of this experiment »

Magic Magnets

What You Do:

Learn about electrons in magnetic materials.

Explore properties of magnets and magnetic fields.

Recommended Lead-Up Lesson: Sticky Static, Circular Circuits