# The Power of Oreos

Contributor
Sara Leins
Type Category
Instructional Materials
Types
Lesson/Lesson Plan , Experiment/Lab Activity
Note
This resource, vetted by NSTA curators, is provided to teachers along with suggested modifications to make it more in line with the vision of the NGSS. While not considered to be “fully aligned,” the resources and expert recommendations provide teachers with concrete examples and expert guidance using the EQuIP rubric to adapted existing resources. Read more here.

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## Description

This lab activity has students making the connection between energy, the conservation of energy, work, and power. The lesson provides enough guidance to help students without directly stating what procedural steps to follow. This allows students to develop their own computational models During the lab, students will need to run or walk up stairs so that they can compute a change in gravitational potential energy, which will also be equal to the work done in raising their mass up the height of the stairs. By simply timing their ascent, the students can then calculate their power. In the end, students are to calculate how many stairs they would need to climb to burn off the calories in an Oreo cookie.

The lesson comes complete with a warm up activity, notes to the instructor, an example of student work, and a wrap up activity.

Intended Audience

Educator and learner
Educational Level
• High School
Language
English
Access Restrictions

Free access - The right to view and/or download material without financial, registration, or excessive advertising barriers.

#### Performance Expectations

HS-PS3-1 Create a computational model to calculate the change in the energy of one component in a system when the change in energy of the other component(s) and energy flows in and out of the system are known.

Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on explaining the meaning of mathematical expressions used in the model.

Assessment Boundary: Assessment is limited to basic algebraic expressions or computations; to systems of two or three components; and to thermal energy, kinetic energy, and/or the energies in gravitational, magnetic, or electric fields.

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this performance expectation.

The lesson is designed for students to determine on their own what they need to measure so that they can calculate their change in gravitational potential energy and therefore the work that is done as they climb stairs. Because the lab instructions don’t simply tell students what to measure but instead requires them to develop their own method, the activity does allow them to create a computational model that they will use to perform their calculations. Instead of being given an equation in the lab handout, students will need to determine that the increase in their gravitational potential energy (mgh) is equal to the work done as they vertically climb the stairs. This is the computational model. The change in gravitational potential energy (mgh) is what students will use to calculate their power. One limitation of the model is that horizontal motion is ignored. A teacher may provide information about supplies and conversion factors available to the students: supplies include stopwatches, a bathroom scale, meter stick, etc.

#### Science and Engineering Practices

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this science and engineering practice.

It may be useful for the students if the instructor drew a set of the stairs on the board (both a side view showing vertical and horizontal displacement, as well as a simplified vertical-only view) to use in a class discussion that focuses on simplifications made in the lab calculations (horizontal displacement is ignored).

#### Disciplinary Core Ideas

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea.

Students use their computational models to predict how much further they would need to climb to burn off the energy content of an Oreo cookie. These calculations show the transfer of energy from one form to another, from physical exercise to the calorie consumption to "work it off."

#### Crosscutting Concepts

This resource was not designed to build towards this crosscutting concept, but can be used to build towards it using the suggestions provided below.