Classroom activities on energy are numerous and diverse. One of the most iconic activities to do with students is to complete a comparison of student definitions of energy with scientific definitions. Like many words in science, people commonly use the word energy outside of the classroom; thus, most students have developed a meaning for the word energy that does not match what science teachers say in their classrooms. You can imagine how ingrained these everyday meanings for energy are compared to scientific definitions that students encounter intermittently in their science classrooms. Developing a shared meaning of the word that is directly related to how students commonly talk about it is a necessary step prior to engaging in a larger unit on energy.

Watch this video of 5th grade students in an urban school in San Diego, California. The purpose of this classroom video is to hear student ideas about energy before and during a classroom activity defining energy.

For additional classroom context, video analysis, and reflection opportunities, read the Picture of Practice page for "What Is Energy?" in the Energy Potential Environmental Literacy Teacher Guide, page 15.