Many students think of energy as synonymous with fuel

Energy and Thermal Physics


Resources to Address This

  • From fuels to energy stores (11-14)

    Ref - SPT En02 PN03

    You can describe the ability of a fuel, such as petrol, to get a job done by saying that it has an energy store associated with it. As the fuel does its job (maybe propelling a car along the road), energy is shifted from the store. Given the source of the energy (the petrol), we say that this is a chemical store.

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  • Helpful language for energy talk (11-16)

    Ref - Practical physics; Energy; Introducing energy; Helpful language for energy talk

    Another kind of energy store is a mixture of fuel and oxygen. In this case bonds between carbon and oxygen atoms can snap shut, releasing energy in a fire or explosion. It is common to talk about just the fuel – for example petrol – as the energy store, but do remember that for this chemical spring to snap shut, there must be oxygen too.

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  • 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)


    Review sheet

  • Trumper, R. () Children's energy concepts: a cross‐age study. International Journal of Science Education, 15 (2) Routledge,


    Review sheet

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