Many students see energy as an ‘intangible fluid’ that flows from one place or object to another during a process
Resources to Address This
Storing energy and transferring energy (11-16)
Using an orange liquid is a way of modelling energy transfer and the emptying/filling of energy stores.
One way to avoid this fluid misconception is to relate to 'real' examples, such as those covered in this resource. Go through the three stages - what is observed; physics explanation; energy explanation.View Resource
- Harrison, A. G, Grayson, D. J. and Treagus, D. F. () Investigating a grade 11 student's evolving conceptions of heat and temperature. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 36, (1) 55-87.
This research identifies unclear concepts of heat and temperature in students aged 16-17 and shows how an eight-week course, using Ausubel's meaningful learning theory, clarified these ideas.
- Trumper, R. () A Longitudinal Study of Physics Students' Conceptions on Energy in Pre-Service Training for High School Teachers. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 7, (4) 311-318.
Pre-service teachers can struggle with their understanding of energy, even those who have a prior physics degree. This may be because they lack a coherent model for energy with links to other parts of physics, particularly heating and forces. Alternatively, the teachers may use ideas about different “forms” of energy and conversion between them. This paper concludes that there is an urgent need for more discussion of energy, and concept building, during teacher training.