The Gravity Light

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.

Web Resource:  The Gravity Light - Wikipedia, The Gravity Light Foundation


Candle-Powered Car

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.

Web Resource:  Seebeck EffectCandle Car Kit - Amazon


Solar Cars

Description: Solar cars use energy from the sun and photovoltaic cells to transport humans. Large solar cars are generally built by universities to compete in solar car races but mini-solar cars can be built in any science classroom. The photovoltaic cells convert solar energy into electricity which runs an electric motor. Energy conversion can be studies within the unit and a solar car design challenge can be used as a culminating design challenge. The criteria and constraints can be modified to the age of the students in the class.

Web Resource: Solar Car - Wikipedia


Magnetic Cannon

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


Limiting Reactant

Description:  In this phenomenon both magnesium metal and hydrochloric acid are limiting reactants.  I have used this in a chemistry class, framing it as "The Case of the Mixed Up Masses".  I tell them that I added varying amounts of magnesium metal but I forgot to label the flasks.  If done correctly they should get the curve seen below.  I learned about this on the NSTA Resource page.  

Web Resource:  NSTA Stoichiometry Balloon Race