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Introduction to Energy and Matter

PS3: Energy
How is energy transferred and conserved?

PS3.D. Energy in Chemical Processes and Everyday Life: How do food and fuel provide energy? If energy is conserved, why do people say it is produced or used?

Learning goals by the end of grade 5: The expression “produce energy” typically refers to the conversion of stored energy into a desired form for practical use—for example, the stored energy of water behind a dam is released so that it flows downhill and drives a turbine generator to produce electricity. Food and fuel also release energy when they are digested or burned. When machines or animals “use” energy (e.g., to move around), most often the energy is transferred to heat the surrounding environment.

The energy released by burning fuel or digesting food was once energy from the sun that was captured by plants in the chemical process that forms plant matter (from air and water). (Boundary: The fact that plants capture energy from sunlight is introduced at this grade level, but details of photosynthesis are not.)

It is important to be able to concentrate energy so that it is available for use where and when it is needed. For example, batteries are physically transportable energy storage devices, whereas electricity generated by power plants is transferred from place to place through distribution systems.

LS1.C. Organization for Matter and Energy Flow in Organisms: How do organisms obtain and use the matter and energy they need to live and grow?

Learning goals by the end of grade 5: Animals and plants alike generally need to take in air and water, animals must take in food, and plants need light and minerals; anaerobic life, such as bacteria in the gut, functions without air. Food provides animals with the materials they need for body repair and growth and is digested to release the energy they need to maintain body warmth and for motion. Plants acquire their material for growth chiefly from air and water and process matter they have formed to maintain their internal conditions (e.g., at night).

Ocean Literacy Principles

Principle 1: The Earth has one big ocean with many features.

Ocean Literacy Fundamental Concept: Most of Earth’s water (97%) is in the ocean. Seawater has unique properties. It is salty, its freezing point is slightly lower than fresh water, its density is slightly higher, its electrical conductivity is much higher, and it is slightly basic. Balance of pH is vital for the health of marine ecosystems, and important in controlling the rate at which the ocean will absorb and buffer changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide. (OLP1e)

Ocean Literacy Fundamental Concept: The ocean is connected to major lakes, watersheds, and waterways because all major watersheds on Earth drain to the ocean. Rivers and streams transport nutrients, salts, sediments, and pollutants from watersheds to coastal estuaries and to the ocean. (OLP1g)

Principle 5: The ocean supports a great diversity of life and ecosystems.

Ocean Literacy Fundamental Concept: Ocean biology provides many unique examples of life cycles, adaptations, and important relationships among organisms (symbiosis, predator-prey dynamics, and energy transfer) that do not occur on land. (OLP5d)


These concepts will be explored in this unit through the following activity and investigation:


Representative Image: 
Exploring Our Fluid Earth, a product of the Curriculum Research & Development Group (CRDG), College of Education. University of Hawaii, 2011. This document may be freely reproduced and distributed for non-profit educational purposes.