Description: The Gravity Light converts potential energy that is stored in a weight into light. The principles involved in this design are very similar to the principles in a cuckoo clock, with the potential energy of the weight being converted to solar energy rather than kinetic energy. Gravity Lights can replace kerosene lights in the developing world with a safe alternative. The phenomenon can be used to illustrate the conversion of potential gravitational energy into other forms of energy. More importantly it conveys the message of sustainability and social responsibility.
Description: Rube Goldberg machines are named after American cartoonist Rube Goldberg who drew complicated steps involved in doing a fairly simple task (like pouring milk in a glass). Students can study these machines, or build their own, to show how energy can be converted through a series of interactions. In lower elementary classes they might be shown or built to show how pushes or pulls can change the motion of objects. As they move through school they should start to identify specific collisions, interactions, and conversions of energy.
Web Resources: Rube Goldberg Machines - Wikipedia
Description: The candle-powered car is an application of the Seebeck Effect. This effect is the result of thermal energy conversion directly into electricity. This phenomenon can be used in elementary school to show energy conversion from heat to electricity to the kinetic energy of the car. A more detailed explanation will be required in high school related to electron response to temperature differences in different materials. The Seeback circuit used in this candle-powered car can also be connected to a voltmeter and used as a temperature sensing thermocouple.
Description: The coupled pendulum can be created with either string or a spring connecting the two pendulums. With each swing energy is transferred from one pendulum to the other. If the pendulums both have the same length one pendulum comes to a complete stop before alternating motion. This phenomenon can be used to show balanced and unbalanced forces, how motion can be used to predict future motion, and the conservation of energy.
Web Resource: L.R. Ingersoll Physics Museum
Description: The magnetic cannon contains four spaced neodymium magnets in a channel. Two balls bearings are placed between each ball bearing. When a new ball bearing is introduced a transfer of energy occurs and the final ball bearing leaves with a higher initial velocity than the first. This is a great phenomenon for studying transfer of momentum and the energy of an object based on its position within a magnetic field.
Web Resource: Magnetic Challenge with Bozeman Science