Car board game.

CareerStart lessons: Grade six

LEARN NC was a program of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Education from 1997 – 2013. It provided lesson plans, professional development, and innovative web resources to support teachers, build community, and improve K-12 education in North Carolina. Learn NC is no longer supported by the School of Education – this is a historical archive of their website.

Learning outcomes

  • Students will analyze the law of conservation of energy
  • Students will evaluate data for qualitative and quantitative relationships associated with energy transfer and/or transformation.

Teacher planning

Materials needed

  • Occupational Outlook Handbook published by the U.S. Department of Labor (Note: If the Occupational Outlook Handbook is not available at your school media center or guidance office, please refer to the electronic version on the Bureau of Labor Statistics website. This website is also a great tool for readers who would struggle with a handbook of this size.)
  • One sheet of white paper for each student
  • For each student, one copy of each of the student handouts:
    • “Skateboard Scenario”
    • “A Bright Idea: Energy Conservation”
    • “Energy Job Information Sheet”
  • Light bulb (optional)
  • Overhead projector
  • Transparency of the student handout “A Bright Idea: Energy Conservation”
  • One copy of teacher reference pages
  • Pencils
Time required for lesson

140 minutes


  1. Instruct the students to make a foldable with the white paper. First, fold the paper hotdog style, then fold in half, and fold in half one last time.
  2. Have students label the top of the boxes with the following vocabulary words: energy, kinetic energy, potential energy, mechanical energy, thermal energy, conversion, friction, law of conservation of energy.
  3. Use the examples from the vocabulary teacher reference page to give the students notes on energy.
  4. Instruct students to record their vocabulary definitions and examples on their foldable.
  5. Show the class a light bulb and ask what career would relate to the light bulb and energy. (Electrician)
  6. Put the transparency of “A Bright Idea: Energy Conservation” on the overhead.
  7. Lead the class in a discussion on energy conservation.
  8. As you discuss energy conservation, instruct students to fill in key words on the student handout “A Bright Idea: Energy Conservation.”
  9. Have students look at the “Skateboard Scenario” student handout, and read the scenario to the class.
  10. Put the students in groups of four or five.
  11. Have students discuss the answer within their groups, and then check for understanding.
  12. Assign one of the following careers to each student: automotive systems technician/race car performance, power plant operator, mechanical engineer, nuclear engineer, petroleum engineer, biomedical engineer, or hairdresser.
  13. Instruct students to complete the “Energy Job Information Sheet” according to their assigned careers.

Critical vocabulary

The ability to do work
Potential energy
The energy an object has because of its position
Kinetic energy
The energy of motion
Energy conversion
Change from one form of energy to another
The force that opposes motion between two surfaces that are touching each other
Law of conservation of energy
Energy cannot be created or destroyed, but only changed from one form into another.
Mechanical energy
Total energy of motion and position of an object
Thermal energy
Internal kinetic energy due to the random motion of particles that make up an object


Optional resources for more information on the topics covered in this lesson

Energy in a Roller Coaster Ride
This interactive roller coaster ride produced for Teachers’ Domain illustrates the relationship between potential and kinetic energy.
Skateboard Science
Exploratorium’s website explaining the scientific forces at work behind skateboarding.
Science of Skateboarding
A scientific article and video explain skateboard physics.
Energy Kids
The U.S. Energy Information Administration educational website on the science of energy, energy sources, using and saving energy in the real world, and the history of energy. Includes teacher lesson plans and games and activities for kids.
Energy Kids: Career Corner
A set of brochures focusing on energy careers.

North Carolina curriculum alignment

Science (2005)

Grade 6

  • Goal 6: The learner will conduct investigations and examine models and devices to build an understanding of the characteristics of energy transfer and/or transformation.
    • Objective 6.04: Evaluate data for qualitative and quantitative relationships associated with energy transfer and/or transformation.

  • North Carolina Essential Standards
    • Science (2010)
      • Grade 7

        • 7.P.2 Understand forms of energy, energy transfer and transformation and conservation in mechanical systems. 7.P.2.1 Explain how kinetic and potential energy contribute to the mechanical energy of an object. 7.P.2.2 Explain how energy can be transformed from...