Energy! Where does it come from, and how do you make it? What’s the difference between potential energy and kinetic energy? In this Science Fun activity, kids use craft sticks to harness energy (potential energy)—then release it (kinetic energy)—by weaving craft sticks into powerful chains. Then, watch as sticks in the chain jump off the ground on their own when you release the end of the chain.
The wooden sticks are slightly flexible, so when you assemble an energy stick chain, you’re harnessing that flex as potential energy. That means the sticks store the energy—and, if conditions are just right, when you let go of the active end of the chain, the sticks flex back to their original shape, and the potential energy is released as kinetic—or moving—energy. The kinetic energy is what you see when the sticks jump off the ground.
In this quick STEM activity, you’ll make two different styles of energy stick assemblies:
• The basic style is called an energy shape, made from just a few sticks. These designs are good for practicing how to “weave” craft sticks.
• The more challenging—and more exciting—style is an energy chain. The energy chain demonstrates the release of potential energy and can be made as long as you want, even all the way around the room! Many children can participate in building an energy chain.
Use the included investigator’s journal to record your predictions and observations.
This activity is part of PTO Today’s Family Science Night kit, a free program that helps PTO and PTA leaders plan a night of hands-on learning and discovery about science at school. The free Family Science Night toolkit includes step-by-step planning guidelines, promotional tools, take-homes, and 20-plus STEM projects for kids. Bring the Family Science Night program to your school.