Finding Potential (Energy) In Household Objects
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Finding Potential (Energy) In Household Objects

Soup cans and batteries. Sounds like the recipe for a noisemaker. 

After pairing the old cans and used AA batteries with a couple of other household objects, our first grade Lynx in John Frassinelli's class were not only having fun, they were learning about different kinds of energy in the process. 

Called "come-back cans," the project meets a couple of criteria that Dr. Frassinelli said makes the students immediately interested. 

"The students love things that roll around and love to make things they can keep," the Lower School science teacher said. "We spent a bit of time discussing stored-up energy (potential energy) & moving energy (kinetic energy) and then we went to work." 

So how does it work?

"We saved the cans and put the batteries inside as weights. As the weight hangs inside on a rubber band, the can is rolled forward and the weight of the battery causes the rubber band to wind itself up,” said Dr. Frase. “After rolling away six or eight feet, the can stops, the rubber band unwinds and the can rolls right back to its owner."

The only real problem was finding the proper-sized rubber bands. Too thick a band won't wind up at all and too thin of a rubber band will either snap or even fail to support the battery inside.  

The students loved decorating the cans as well as hammering holes in the cans for the weights and rubber bands. Luckily, Dr. Frassinelli made it through approximately 90 hammered holes in the cans without so much as a sore thumb.  

It was another exciting discovery opportunity and hands-on learning experience for our young Lynx scientist.