The Lesson Plan - Forms of Energy III


Science –  SC.4.P.10.4
Describe how moving water and/or air are sources of energy and can be used to move things.

Language Arts – LAFS.4.L.3.4
Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grade 4 reading and content, choosing flexibly from a range of strategies.

Use context (e.g., definitions, examples, or restatements in text) as a clue to the meaning of a word or phrase.

Consult reference materials (e.g., dictionaries, glossaries, thesauruses), both print and digital, to find the pronunciation and determine or clarify the precise meaning of key words and phrases.

Language Arts – LAFS.4.W.3.7
Conduct short research projects that build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic.

Mathematics – MAFS.4.NF.3.6
Use decimal notation for fractions with denominators 10 or 100. For example, rewrite 0.62 as 62/100; describe a length as 0.62 meters; locate 0.62 on a number line diagram.

Big Idea(s)

Forms of Energy

  • Energy is involved in all physical processes and is unifying concept in many areas of science.
  • Energy exists in many forms and has the ability to do work or cause a change.

Essential Questions

  • How are moving water and air sources of energy?
  • How can water and air be used to make things move?


Wind Energy Water Energy Hydroelectric Power • Kinetic Energy Sources Renewable Energy Movement Wind Turbines • Atoms Molecules Reaction Sir Isaac Newton Propel Resistance Rotational Energy Inertia Velocity

Background Information

Wind energy is a clean form of renewable energy. There are many wind turbines that are capturing the wind’s power and creating electricity around the globe.

Water energy is called hydroelectric power. This form of electricity is supplied by generating energy from falling or streaming water. Hydroelectric power is also considered a renewable energy source. These sources of energy play an important role in the way we power our planet.

In the 1600’s, the English scientist and mathematician Sir Isaac Newton proposed three laws of motion. Newton’s laws concern the ideal motion of objects and do not take into account air resistance or other friction. However, these laws have enabled scientists to describe a wide variety of motions.

The third law of motion states that for each action there is an equal and opposite reaction. For example, when hot gases escape from a rocket engine during take-off, the rocket is propelled upward. The downward motion of the gases from the rocket generates a reaction of the rocket upward. This reaction helps the rocket overcome air resistance and propels it  into space. There are many other examples of Newton’s third law. For example, when a rifle fires a bullet, the firing of the bullet is the action and the recoil of the rifle is the reaction. Both are caused by the expanding gas of the exploding gunpowder. When can also see this when a rotating lawn sprinkler propels a spray of water in one direction while rotating in the other direction.

Sometimes the reaction is such that it cannot be seen. When you throw a ball against a wall and the ball bounces back, you do not see the wall moving in the opposite direction. But there is a small motion in the area of the wall that was hit. If the ball bounces from the ground, the earth also draws back, but the mass of the earth is so great that we cannot see its motion.

  • Newton’s 1st Law of Motion states that a body at rest will remain at rest and that a body in motion will remain in motion unless something interferes with it.  In other words, things can not start, stop or change by themselves. There must be an action taking place that causes it to change. A word commonly used for this type of resistance is called inertia. 
  • Newton’s 2nd Law of Motion states that a force acting on an object is equal to the mass of that object times its acceleration- F=ma ( F = force , m = mass, a = acceleration). This force can be a single force or a succession of forces combined. When this constant force acts against an object, it causes it to accelerate and change its velocity.
  • Newton’s 3rd Law of Motion states that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. This demonstrates what happens to an object when it comes in contact with another object.  Each object has its own force and they each push back with great force creating a reaction.

Resources derived from:

Reeko Science: Milk Carton Water Wheel

How Stuff Works: Milk Carton Water Wheel

Guiding Questions

  • What is energy?
  • What are the different forms of motion?
  • How can moving water create energy?
  • What are the types of energy that can create force?
  • How can we use the energy of motion?

Instructional Sequence

Math Mania

Essential Question:

Express the 23% as a decimal, then convert to a fraction.

Hydropower is a renewable source of energy. Hydropower provided 23% percent of the energy we consumed in 2018. Energy experts predict hydropower production will continue to show growth during the next five years.

The correct response would be 0.23 or 23/100

Fun Facts

  • Higher wind speeds mean more electricity! Wind turbines are being built taller in order to reach higher heights above ground level, where it’s even windier.
  • Wind turbines are quite large. Wind turbine blades average over 180 feet long, and turbine towers average more than 280 feet tall—about the height of the Statue of Liberty.
  • California’s Alta Wind Energy Center is the second largest wind farm in the world and is considered the largest wind farm in the United States.

World Atlas: The World's 10 Largest Wind Farms

Inquiry Type

  • Controlled Inquiry
  • Guided Inquiry
  • Class/Group Activity

Teacher Resources

Extended Activities:


STEM Lessons – Model Eliciting Activity Resource

Sunshine Power Company MEA:
This Model Eliciting Activity (MEA) is written at a 4th grade level. In this open-ended problem, students must consider how to rank wind companies based on factors like windiness, noise levels, and power output. In teams, students determine their procedures and write letters back to the client.