- Start class by asking students to define what energy is. Students may suggest different forms of energy. Dependent upon the background of your students you may wish to ask them to explain how each form of energy differs. How do you measure different amounts of heat energy? What scales are used for measuring differences in heat?
- Explain to the class that the energy of a fuel can be measured by using the fuel to heat water. The specific heat capacity of water is 4.2 J/g/C. This means that it takes 4.2 Joules of energy to cause the temperature of 1 gram of water to rise by 1 degree Celsius.
- In this lab the students will use a peanut as a fuel to heat the water. What other fuels could be used?
- The teacher will demonstrate the lab reminding students to be work safely with the Bunsen burner and to ensure that the cork doesn’t ignite with the peanut.
- Students should follow the instructions on the worksheet to measure the energy of a peanut. In conclusion, students should write “The fission of 1 gram of uranium 235 releases 78.5 Giga Joules of energy. The energy of one gram of peanut is ……… joules.”
- Finally, students will design a new lab to find the energy of another fuel. This will be completed in the second class period. Students should be advised to increase the volume of water with fuels of higher energy content.
Students shall be assessed on their lab report for the energy of a peanut. Understanding of the formula to calculate energy should be a vital part of the grade. Ability to follow directions and work safely will be provide observed assessment. Finally, the design of a second lab will assess the students’ understanding of energy measurements as they transfer skills to test a new fuel.