July 16, 2019

Guest Blog – Science for Youth: What is Energy Flow


We welcome our Guest Blogger Ron Seagal, the President of “True Education Solutions.” Ron has a number of informative articles and services for Home Schoolers and Educators.  Here is one of them: Part II – Energy Flow Defined


Energy Flow Defined for Youth

 You’ll recall from Part I that energy is what “pushes” matter. It is the ability to make matter move.

Now let’s look at an example of how energy can flow. The sun emits heat and other forms of energy. Heat can make matter move (e.g., it can make ice cream melt).

Plants “soak up” some of the energy from the sun and store it. Animals eat plants. Now these animals have the stored energy. Humans eat animals (e.g., meat from a cow), and then they have the stored energy.


A person can burn and release this stored energy in a piece of meat to help move the body—energy that originally came from the sun.

In a sense, you could think of the physical human body as ultimately being “solar powered.”

Also, scientists believe that many millions of years ago oceans covered most of the Earth. These oceans were filled with tiny sea animals and plants. These sea animals and plants had stored energy fro m the sun. When they died, they sank to the bottom of the ocean. Over time, sand and mud covered them. Then more sand and mud covered them, until it amounted to millions of tons of sand, mud, and clay pushing down on them. Over millions of years, the dead plants and animals were “squeezed” from this pressure. They eventually formed into a black, thick substance called petroleum.

Today, we can make gasoline (and many other products) from petroleum that we dig up from below the Earth’s surface. When we burn the gasoline, it releases energy that we can use to move cars and other vehicles.

This energy was originally emitted from the sun millions of years ago. The path: from the sun releasing energy; to tiny sea animals and plants; to petroleum; to gasoline; to burned gasoline releasing heat and other forms of energy back out into the atmosphere.

Let’s look at another example of the flow of energy. A person uses their best pool sticks and lightly hits a billiard ball. The energy transfers from the hammer to the billiard ball, which is now in motion. That billiard ball hits another billiard ball—and now the first billiard ball is stopped and the second billiard ball has energy of motion.

 What about the fact that the billiard ball eventually stops? What happened to its motion energy? The billiard ball slows down bit by bit because of friction with the table top. That friction generates heat. The motion energy transfers to heat energy.

If you took the hammer and pounded a piece of metal, you would increase the temperature of the metal (motion energy transferring into heat energy—followed by dissipation of that heat energy into the atmosphere). Energy can be stored, and it can flow.

[Note: The above can give some stable data, but keep in mind that information (including science) is fluid and does change, and that some concepts learned in advanced science modify concepts acquired in a more basic study of science.]

© True Curriculum 2011 Best, Ron Seagal President, True Education Solutions Quality Tutoring & Homeschool Support http://trueeducationsolutions.com/

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