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Misconceptions in Teaching Energy Science

Energy has become an indispensable concept for describing and explaining our world scientifically. Therefore it is now ubiquitous in school science curricula worldwide and regarded as of first importance universally by scientists and educators alike. Nonetheless, energy is not well understood by our students.1 Students graduating from secondary schools generally cannot use energy to describe or explain even basic, everyday phenomena.Beyond that educators are not unanimous about how and when energy should be introduced to students.3 Energy as presented in school science is not a single, coherent concept, and it is not always consistent with the scientific energy concept. Furthermore the energy concept in the professional science education literature is not even unitary.4 As a result energy is not treated in consistent ways from year to year and from discipline to discipline in our schools. Today’s school science energy concept has retained and acquired connotations that contradict the modern scientific energy concept and that hinder its comprehension by teachers and students alike. -Gregg Swackhamer

“It is important to realize that in physics today we have no knowledge of what energy is”, said Richard Feynman in his Lectures in the sixties. “Nobody knows what energy really is” can be read in Bergmann and Schaefer’s Experimental Physics, 1998. If we do not know what energy is, it is difficult to explain it in the best way. Many studies have shown that the concept of energy is a problem for teaching. Concepts of energy presented in highschool and university textbooks have been criticised. There is much confusion with energy, says Beynon, “because it is not treated as an abstract physical quantity but something real, just like a piece of cheese” (1990, p. 315). According to Feynman, energy is not a concrete thing and energy conservation is a mathematical principle. A study on the history of the concept of energy has however shown that the discoverers did not find anything which is indestructible and transformable but rather a methodology of dealing with phenomena. -On the concept of energy: History and philosophy for science teaching 

 What is energy? A classic textbook definition of  “Energy is the ability capacity to do work” is not only incomplete, but incorrect, because it ignores the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, which states that not all energy has the ability to do work (useful energy-low entropy and useless-high entropy).

The 1st Law says that energy is conserved, yet the 2nd Law says that the ability to do work is not conserved, so this definition of energy leads to a logical contradiction. “The capacity to do work” makes sense for mechanical energy, but not for thermal and other forms of energy. Even though many physics classes do mechanical energy first and therefore this may seem like a reasonable way to start.

Hicks advises  “the capacity to do work”  is useful for students in understanding physical situations - to begin with.  

[Viglietta 1990] recommends   “energy”,   defined as the maximum work that can be provided by a system.

[Pinto 2004] recommends focusing on “energy degradation”, the transformation of energy into less useful forms, explained at the microscopic level by energy dispersion. They claim that this corresponds better to students’ experience of energy “conservation” in the sense of “not wasting energy” (rather than in the physics sense of conservation).

Feynman says there are a number of different  physical quantities whose sum is always constant (as a physical law), so we call that sum “energy”. These various physical quantities are typically called “forms of energy”.

 In thermodynamics however, there is only energy, not different forms of energy, and in that context, the idea of transforming energy between forms is meaningless. They show that the “forms of energy” language is valid only under specific constraints, e.g. a system undergoing small changes; otherwise the change in “chemical energy”, “thermal energy”, etc., is a path function rather than a state function, and is not welldefined for a particular system.

[Swackhamer 2005] takes a harder line and rejects “forms of energy” entirely. Instead, he says that energy is just energy, stored in an object, and transferred from one object to another. He argues that gravitational/electric potential energy is stored in the field, and explains various phenomena this way.

Citing Lakoff, he argues that a “stuff” model of energy, based on energy transfer (rather than energy transformation) is more consistent with how we conceptualize events, using the metaphor that change is movement of possession.

[Papadouris 2008] takes the opposite position, that energy transformation is a better model than energy transfer, since there are many situations that cannot be accounted for with explanations based on energy transfer alone. [Moore 1993] addresses different formulations of the First Law of Thermodynamics, and distinguishes between E (total energy) and U (internal energy).

He argues that the correct form includes E, and the restricted form only works when E=U, i.e., quasi-static processes. He advocates for including some nonequilibrium thermodynamics in introductory physics, using some examples of situations in which the internal energy interacts with macroscopic energies.

[Watts 1983] documents students’ alternative frameworks about energy, and places them into seven categories: 1) human-centered, 2) depository (some objects “have” energy and others “need” energy), 3) ingredient (energy is in things, to be released), 4) activity, 5) product, 6) functional, and 7) flow-transfer model.

[Trumper 1990] focuses on three of these as the most pervasive: anthropocentric, active deposit, and product. A number of studies look at students’ energy concepts in terms of a stage model. [Liu 2005] uses a neoPiagetian model of development, and shows that students’ acquisition of energy concepts correspond to the stages of their conceptual development. In order, these stages are: activity, capacity to do work, various sources/forms of energy, energy transfer, energy degradation, and energy conservation.

A common theme is the failure to integrate biology with the physical sciences, and to integrate among the levels of biology and to other fields also.

Ben Dreyfus

We have developed a method of teaching science that integrates all these aspects and overcome misconceptions in Teaching Science and to integrate Energy at all levels. - Uni5 Method.

See the Model of Teaching Energy inUni5 Method.

 

Challenges and Misconceptions in Current Teaching of Energy in Science in schools and colleges throughout globe. 

Herrmann-Abell & DeBoer, NARST 2011
3/10/11 2
Introduction:
In today’s society, citizens are constantly confronted with a wide range of energy-related issues, such as deciding between purchasing a hybrid or traditional car, and whether or not to unplug electrical devices when not in use. In order to make well informed decisions regarding these issues, all citizens need an understanding of what energy is and how it can be transformed and transferred. In a school setting, energy ideas are central to understanding the life, earth, and physical sciences. If educators have an awareness of how students think about energy, they may be able to diagnose problems in learning in other areas of science that rely on a solid
understanding of energy, such as in photosynthesis and respiration, or weather and climate, that might otherwise go undiagnosed. Because energy is an important topic both in and out of school, it is important to have a detailed understanding of what students know and do not know about energy.

http://www.project2061.org/publications/2061connections/2011/media/herrmann-abell_narst_2011.pdf

The key ideas are: • Transformation: Energy can be transformed within a system. • Transfer: Energy can be transferred from one object or system to another in different ways: by conduction, mechanically, electrically, or by electromagnetic radiation. • Conservation: Regardless of what happens within a system, the total amount of energy in the system remains the same unless energy is added to or released from the system.

Students should know that: 1. Regardless of what happens within a system, the total amount of energy in the system remains the same unless energy is added to or released from the system, even though the forms of energy present may change. 2. If the total amount of energy in a system seems to decrease or increase, energy must have gone somewhere or come from somewhere outside the system. 3. If no energy enters or leaves a system, a decrease of one form of energy by a certain amount within the system must be balanced by an increase of another form of energy by that same amount within the system (or a net increase of multiple forms of energy by that same amount). Similarly, an increase of one form of energy by a certain amount within a system must be balanced by a decrease of another form of energy by that same amount within the system (or a net decrease of multiple forms of energy by that same amount). 4. Energy can neither be created nor destroyed but it can be transferred and/or transformed. 5. If energy is transferred to or from a very large system (or a very complex system), increases or decreases of energy may be difficult to detect and, therefore, it may appear that energy was not conserved. 

 

http://www.aaas.org/sites/default/files/Project2061_NARST%20energy%20paper%204-5-16.pdf

 

Energy is a core concept in the teaching of science. Therefore, it is important to know how students’ thinking about energy develops so that elementary, middle, and high school students can be appropriately supported in their understanding of energy.

 

http://pauegitimdergi.pau.edu.tr/Makaleler/710882739_Eylem%20Yal%C3%A7%C4%B1nkaya1,%20%C3%96zgecan%20Ta%C5%9Ftan2,%20Yezdan%20Boz3.pdf

 

• Kinetic energy: The amount of energy an object has depends on how fast it is moving.

• Thermal energy: The amount of energy an object has depends on how warm it is.

• Gravitational potential energy: The amount of energy an object has depends on how high it is above the surface of the earth.

• Elastic energy: The amount of energy an elastic object has depends on how much the object is stretched, compressed, twisted, or bent.

• Chemical energy: Energy is released when fuel is burned. Energy is also released when food is used as fuel in animals.

• Conduction: When warmer things are touching cooler ones, the warmer things get cooler and the cooler things get warmer until they all are the same temperature.

• Convection: When air or water moves to another location, it can change the temperature of the air or water at that location.

• Radiation: When light shines on an object, the object typically gets warmer.

• Dissipation: Objects tend to get warmer when they are involved in energy transfers.

http://www.aaas.org/sites/default/files/CHA%26GDB-NARST%202015%20final.pdf

http://www.aaas.org/sites/default/files/Project2061_CHA-AERA%20energy%20paper%204-7-16.pdf

http://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-319-05017-1_5#page-1

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3671649/pdf/215.pdf

 

 

Table 1: Targeted science ideas 1. Pure substances are made from a single type of atom or molecule; each pure substance has characteristic properties that can be used to identify it. (from PS1.A) 2. Many substances react chemically in characteristic ways. In a chemical reaction, the atoms that make up the molecules of the original substances are regrouped into different molecules, and these new substances have different properties from those of the starting substances. (from PS1.B) 3. The total number of each type of atom is conserved during chemical reactions, and thus the mass does not change. If the measured mass changes, it is because atoms have entered or left the system. (from PS1.B) 4. Animals obtain food from eating plants or eating other animals. Within individual organisms, food moves through a series of chemical reactions in which the molecules that make up food are broken down and the atoms are rearranged to form new molecules to support growth. (from LS1.C) 5. Plants make glucose from carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and water through a chemical reaction that releases oxygen. Within individual organisms, glucose molecules undergo chemical reactions in which the atoms that make up the glucose molecules are rearranged to form new molecules to support growth. (from LS1.C)

 

http://www.aaas.org/sites/default/files/narst-2014-paper_draft3-28.pdf

 

The seven key ideas are: Idea A: All matter is made of atoms. Idea B: All atoms are extremely small. Idea E: All atoms and molecules are in constant motion. Idea F: There are differences in the spacing, motion, and interaction of atoms and molecules that make up solids, liquids, and gases. Idea G: For any single state of matter, changes in temperature typically change the average distance between atoms or molecules. Most substances or mixtures of substances expand when heated and contract when cooled. Idea H: Changes of state can be explained in terms of changes in the arrangement, motion, and interaction of atoms and molecules. Idea I: For any single state of matter, the average speed of the atoms or molecules increases as the temperature of a substance increases and decreases as the temperature of a substance decreases.

 

https://people.rit.edu/svfsps/perc2001/Singh.pdf

 

Teaching and learning science K-12 schools. Book. 

https://books.google.com/books?id=SSu_BAAAQBAJ&pg=PA131&lpg=PA131&dq=(Fischbein,+Stavy,+%26+Ma-Naim,+1989&source=bl&ots=re4NTsBlHf&sig=ZcJrtLsY0mbypZcLlNkgQCTwxm8&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjwhvG66KjQAhWHyyYKHReSB2oQ6AEIJTAC#v=onepage&q=(Fischbein%2C%20Stavy%2C%20%26%20Ma-Naim%2C%201989&f=false

Misconceptions of Entropy and energy

http://umdberg.pbworks.com/f/energy%20summary.pdf

misconceptions

http://www.geier.us/esummit-msu.net/sites/default/files/papers/Cari%20Hermann-Abell/Herrmann-Abell%26DeBoer_Energy%20summit%20paper-updated.pdf

 

good write up on Energy

http://www1.eere.energy.gov/education/pdfs/energy_literacy_1_1_high_res.pdf

Energy definition

http://www.ftexploring.com/energy/definition.html

on energy - http://www.fao.org/docrep/u2246e/u2246e02.htm

mexico-energy http://www.nmsea.org/Curriculum/Primer/energy_physics_primer.htm

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy

 

http://web.mit.edu/8.02t/www/materials/modules/ReviewC.pdf

http://www.explainthatstuff.com/energy.html

http://ac.els-cdn.com/S1877042809004704/1-s2.0-S1877042809004704-main.pdf?_tid=44b4a028-aab5-11e6-a218-00000aab0f26&acdnat=1479160800_f5f6498cd10c8fe17efd53bf1a5e4ebe

 

Best Comprehensive Energy concepts. 

 

To work on

 

Motion Energy: Motion energy (kinetic energy) is associated with the speed and the mass of an object.
• Thermal Energy (substance level): Thermal energy is associated with the temperature and the mass of an object and the material of which the object is made.
• Thermal Energy (atomic level): Thermal energy of an object is associated with the
disordered motions of its atoms or molecules and the number and types of atoms or
molecules of which the object is made.
• Gravitational Potential Energy: Gravitational potential energy is associated with the
distance an object is above a reference point, such as the center of the earth, and the mass
of the object.
• Elastic Energy: Elastic energy is associated with the stretching or compressing of an
elastic object and how easily the object can be stretched or compressed.
• Transformation: Energy can be transformed within a system.
• Transfer: Energy can be transferred from one object or system to another in different
ways: by conduction, mechanically, electrically, or by electromagnetic radiation.
• Conservation: Regardless of what happens within a system, the total amount of energy in
the system remains the same unless energy is added to or released from the system.

http://www.geier.us/esummit-msu.net/sites/default/files/papers/Cari%20Hermann-Abell/Herrmann-Abell%26DeBoer_Energy%20summit%20paper-updated.pdf

Students should know the following sub-ideas:
1. Regardless of what happens within a system, the total amount of energy in the system
remains the same unless energy is added to or released from the system, even though the
forms of energy present may change.
2. If the total amount of energy in a system seems to decrease or increase, energy must have
gone somewhere or come from somewhere outside the system.
3. If no energy enters or leaves a system, a decrease of one form of energy by a certain
amount within the system must be balanced by an increase of another form of energy by
that same amount within the system (or a net increase of multiple forms of energy by that
same amount). Similarly, an increase of one form of energy by a certain amount within a
system must be balanced by a decrease of another form of energy by that same amount
within the system (or a net decrease of multiple forms of energy by that same amount).
4. Energy can neither be created nor destroyed but it can be transferred and/or transformed.
5. If energy is transferred to or from a very large system (or a very complex system),
increases or decreases of energy may be difficult to detect and, therefore, it may appear
that energy was not conserved.

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