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Harnessing Energy: Practicals

Eight practicals produced by the Institute of Physics (IOP) that help students to understand energy transfer and transformation and the use of energy in its various forms.

Accompanied by the Teacher and technicians' guide for both the practicals and activity sheets.

In addition to the guidance included for specific activities, please refer to the generic health and safety information before commencing any practical activity.

PV power
Activities designed to introduce students to some basic concepts concerning energy transformation, by considering the use of photovoltaic cells.

Solar powered vehicles
Students work individually or in small teams to build and test a model solar powered boat. The project introduces and reinforces concepts associated with energy transformation, forces, motion, friction, power and electrical circuits (including electrical units, how power can be calculated from voltage and current, factors affecting the use of PVs and the difference between series and parallel connection of cells). This task can be tailored to suit wide ranges of ability.

Temperature and heat
Activities using a liquid crystal film to clarify students' understanding of the distinction between the terms hot, cold, heat energy and temperature. With an appropriate pace, it is suitable for mixed ability classes and can be completed in an hour.

Thermal insulation
A set of short activities designed to introduce foundation tier candidates to the scientific ideas behind thermal insulation and aiming to sort out the distinction between heat energy, temperature, hot and cold. An extension activity allows students to investigate the idea of work done against friction transferring heat energy - it is useful if the activities are given to mixed ability classes.

Solar house heating
Activities designed for higher tier students, and provide them with some experimental evidence for the greenhouse effect and convection currents in the context of heating houses from the Sun.Thermocolour film (thermofilm) is used to measure the temperature of the air.

Absorbing solar energy
This work can be used to develop students' concepts of energy transfer and transformation and to consolidate ideas concerning alternative energy sources.The investigation could be used for assessment purposes or to develop ideas concerning the design of controlled, repeatable investigations.

Test a windmill
An investigation based on providing students with ready made windmills, making it possible to complete this work in a single session. If more time is available, they can use the procedure in Design a windmill to make their own to test.

Make a windmill
Students may work individually or in small teams to build and test a model windmill.

Show health and safety information

Please be aware that resources have been published on the website in the form that they were originally supplied. This means that procedures reflect general practice and standards applicable at the time resources were produced and cannot be assumed to be acceptable today. Website users are fully responsible for ensuring that any activity, including practical work, which they carry out is in accordance with current regulations related to health and safety and that an appropriate risk assessment has been carried out.

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