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The Physics Teacher
written by Abigail R. Daane, Lindsay Wells, and Rachel E. Scherr
Energy Theater is a dynamic, full-body activity that engages all students in representing the flow of energy in various phenomena, such as a light bulb burning steadily or a refrigerator cooling food. In Energy Theater, each participant acts as a unit of energy that has one form at a time. Regions on the floor correspond to objects in a physical scenario, and participants move from one region to another to demonstrate the flow of energy among objects. The goal of Energy Theater is for students to track energy transfers and transformations in real-world energy scenarios while employing the principle of energy conservation and disambiguating matter and energy. Unlike most representations of energy, which are static before-and-after accounting schemes for energy changes, Energy Theater is a dynamic representation that provides a natural stepping stone toward the more advanced ideas of energy density, energy current, and a continuity equation relating them. The fact that conservation of energy is embedded in the representation encourages students to "find the energy" in situations where it may be imperceptible.
The Physics Teacher: Volume 52, Issue 5, Pages 291-294
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Classical Mechanics
- Work and Energy
= Conservation of Energy
Education - Applied Research
- Active Learning
= Cooperative Learning
- High School
- Middle School
- Reference Material
= Article
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© 2014 American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT)
Law of Conservation of Energy, active learning, energy conversion, energy transfer, kinesthetic learning, modeling energy
Record Creator:
Metadata instance created February 3, 2023 by Sam McKagan
Record Updated:
February 6, 2023 by Caroline Hall
Last Update
when Cataloged:
April 26, 2014
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Record Link
AIP Format
A. Daane, L. Wells, and R. Scherr, , Phys. Teach. 52 (5), 291 (2014), WWW Document, (https://doi.org/10.1119/1.4872412).
A. Daane, L. Wells, and R. Scherr, Energy Theater, Phys. Teach. 52 (5), 291 (2014), <https://doi.org/10.1119/1.4872412>.
APA Format
Daane, A., Wells, L., & Scherr, R. (2014, April 26). Energy Theater. Phys. Teach., 52(5), 291-294. Retrieved September 25, 2023, from https://doi.org/10.1119/1.4872412
Chicago Format
Daane, A, L. Wells, and R. Scherr. "Energy Theater." Phys. Teach. 52, no. 5, (April 26, 2014): 291-294, https://doi.org/10.1119/1.4872412 (accessed 25 September 2023).
MLA Format
Daane, Abigail R., Lindsay Wells, and Rachel Scherr. "Energy Theater." Phys. Teach. 52.5 (2014): 291-294. 25 Sep. 2023 <https://doi.org/10.1119/1.4872412>.
BibTeX Export Format
@article{ Author = "Abigail R. Daane and Lindsay Wells and Rachel Scherr", Title = {Energy Theater}, Journal = {Phys. Teach.}, Volume = {52}, Number = {5}, Pages = {291-294}, Month = {April}, Year = {2014} }
Refer Export Format

%A Abigail R. Daane %A Lindsay Wells %A Rachel Scherr %T Energy Theater %J Phys. Teach. %V 52 %N 5 %D April 26, 2014 %P 291-294 %U https://doi.org/10.1119/1.4872412 %O text/html

EndNote Export Format

%0 Journal Article %A Daane, Abigail R. %A Wells, Lindsay %A Scherr, Rachel %D April 26, 2014 %T Energy Theater %J Phys. Teach. %V 52 %N 5 %P 291-294 %8 April 26, 2014 %U https://doi.org/10.1119/1.4872412

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Energy Theater:

Is Associated With Energy Tracking Diagrams

A link to article on "Energy Tracking Diagrams", a related activity by 4 of the same authors.

relation by Caroline Hall
Is Associated With Energy Cubes

Link to "Energy Cubes", one of the trio of instructional resources that make up the "Energy Project" teaching method.

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Covers the Same Topic As “Energy Theater”: Using The Body Symbolically To Understand Energy

This PER conference paper discusses the pedagogical and theoretical foundation for the activity called "Energy Theater".

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Is Supplemented By Energy Theater: Exploring Energy Transfer and Transformation

This is a full lesson plan with printable student guide for high school Conceptual Physics, centered around the Energy Theater activity.

relation by Caroline Hall
Is Associated With Animating Energy: Stop-Motion Animation and Energy Tracking Representations

A link to the stop-motion animation activity, part of the "Energy Project" suite of activities

relation by Caroline Hall

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