We continue to explore physics this year for science. Earlier in the year we looked at electricity and magnetism. After our vacation we returned to Super Storm Sandy and took a week to learn about hurricanes. Since then we’ve been discussing energy.
These “True Books” look simple but I find that they almost always provide a really excellent introduction to a topic. We talked about the relationship between force and work and energy and kinetic vs. potential energy after reading this one.
It also introduced different types of energy which we then went on to read more about in The Shocking Truth About Energy. Written by Loreen Leedy, one of my favorite authors of math and science related non-fiction books for kids, this book explores the different types of energy more in depth and shows how one type of energy can change into another type. Leedy also introduces the idea of energy conservation by discussing the pros and cons of each type of energy and gives tips for how to use energy wisely.
My boys were truly amazed by this story of 14 year old William Kamkwamba who was forced to leave school when a severe drought hit his native Malawi. Written by Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer, this pared down version of an earlier adult book tells William’s story as he dreams of solving the energy needs of his village by building a windmill. William’s story is inspirational and provided the perfect real-life component to our discussion of alternative forms of energy. It made it much more real to the boys and their jaws literally dropped when I showed them a photo of the real William and his windmill on the book jacket.
We don’t just read, although we did a few less experiments than usual during this unit. We used Janice Van Cleve’s Energy for Every Kid and did a few of the experiments from there. The most popular was making origami frogs to demonstrate the difference between potential and kinetic energy. I also had John read some of Van Cleve’s book on his own and do some of the problems to give him a bit of a deeper understanding of the topic.
Finally, I had the boys work together to create an energy poster summing up what they had learned. I think my favorite was that David thought of a whale for sound energy. Next week, we move on to forces.
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind has been nominated for a Cybil in the non-fiction picture book category.