Key Idea: Energy can be transformed (converted) within a system.

Students are expected to know that:

  1. Within a system, one form of energy can be transformed into one or more other forms of energy.
  2. A decrease in one form of energy within a system is associated with an increase in one or more other forms of energy (unless energy is transferred into or out of the system). Similarly, an increase in one form of energy within a system is associated with a decrease in one or more other forms of energy (unless energy is transferred into or out of the system).
  3. Any form of energy can be transformed to other forms of energy and any form of energy can result from a transformation.
  4. Energy and force are two different concepts and one cannot be transformed into the other.
  5. Energy transformations can occur when energy is transferred from one system to another.
  6. Most of what goes on in the universe—from exploding stars and biological growth to the operation of machines and the motion of people—involves some form of energy being transformed into one or more other forms of energy.

Boundaries:

  1. Although students are expected to know that when energy is transformed, a decrease of one form of energy is accompanied by an increase in one or more other forms of energy and vice versa, they are not expected to know that the total amount of energy in the system is conserved.
  2. Students are not expected to keep track of how much of one form is converted into another.
  3. Students are also not expected to know the relationship between energy and work.
  4. They will be assessed on energy transformations involving motion energy (kinetic energy), thermal energy, gravitational potential energy, and/or elastic potential energy.
  5. Students will not be assessed on energy transformations involving electrical energy, sound energy, chemical potential energy, or radiant energy because we have not yet developed clarifications and items aligned to these ideas.
Percent of students answering correctly (click on the item ID number to view the item and additional data)
Item ID
Number
Knowledge Being Assessed Grades
6–8
Grades
9–12
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NG016003

When a ball rolls downhill, the gravitational potential energy of the ball is transformed into motion energy.

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NG009005

Both gravitational potential energy and motion energy are involved in an energy transformation when a book falls. As the book is falling, its gravitational potential energy decreases and its motion energy increases.

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NG003003

Gravitational potential energy is transformed into motion energy and thermal energy when coasting down a hill on a bicycle.

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NG004003

Gravitational potential energy is transformed into motion energy as a rock falls from a cliff.

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NG018003

The thermal energy of a ball and a track increases the entire time the ball is rolling along the track because both the gravitational potential energy and the motion energy of the ball are converted into thermal energy.

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NG005003

As a piece of clay falls, its gravitational potential energy is converted to motion energy, and as it hits the floor its motion energy is converted into thermal energy.

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NG015003

As a ball rolls down a ramp, the gravitational potential energy of the ball decreases and the motion energy of the ball increases because gravitational potential energy is transformed into motion energy.

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NG099001

When skateboarding down a hill, gravitational potential energy is transformed into motion energy and thermal energy.

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NG100001

When a ball is falling down, the gravitational potential energy of the ball is transformed into motion energy but the elastic energy of the ball is not.

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NG001003

Water dripping from a faucet into a sink is an example of the transformation of gravitational potential energy into motion energy.

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NG017003

The motion energy of a ball rolling back and forth in a curved track is converted to gravitational potential energy only when it is rolling uphill.

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NG013002

As a rubber balls falls to the floor, the motion energy of the ball increases and the gravitational potential energy of the ball decreases because the gravitational potential energy is transformed into motion energy.

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NG079002

The motion energy of a book sliding across a table is transformed into thermal energy, not into a force.

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Frequency of selecting a misconception

Misconception
ID Number

Student Misconception

Grades
6–8
Grades
9–12

NGM011

Gravitational potential energy cannot be converted into thermal energy (AAAS Project 2061, n.d.).

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NGM010

Energy can be created (Kruger, 1990; Lovrude, 2004; Papadouris et al., 2008).

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NGM009

An object has energy within it that is used up as the object moves (Brook & Driver, 1984; Kesidou & Duit, 1993; Loverude, 2004; Stead, 1980).

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NGM007

Gravitational potential energy cannot be transformed into motion energy (AAAS Project 2061, n.d.).

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NGM006

Motion energy cannot be transformed into gravitational potential energy (AAAS Project 2061, n.d.).

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NGM005

Energy can be transformed into a force (AAAS Project 2061, n.d.).

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NGM003

Motion energy is not transformed into thermal energy, especially when there is no noticeable temperature increase (Brook & Wells, 1988; Kesidou & Duit, 1993).

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NGM002

One form of energy cannot be transformed into another form of energy (e.g. chemical energy cannot be converted to kinetic energy) (Brook & Driver, 1984).

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EGM044

Gravitational potential energy is the potential to fall; an object will lose all of its gravitational potential energy as soon as it starts to fall (Herrmann-Abell & DeBoer, 2010; Loverude, 2004).

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Frequency of selecting a misconception was calculated by dividing the total number of times a misconception was chosen by the number of times it could have been chosen, averaged over the number of students answering the questions within this particular idea.