August 17th, 2016

This activity groups items related to energy that seem similar and challenges students to chose which item in the group is not like the others. Students use supporting evidence to explain their reasoning.

3.3 Energy POE

3.6 — Energy: Odd One Out (Optional)

App Features

Note that the Playground Physics app is not required for this lesson.

Expected Activity Time

  • Total Activity Time: 40 minutes
  • Introduction: 5 minutes
  • Activity: 15 minutes
  • Discussion: 20 minutes

Materials and Prep

  • Worksheet: Energy: Odd One Out
  • iPad with app (optional)


Introduce the Activity (5 minutes)

  • In this activity, students will be choosing what they think is the best answer to the question “which is the odd one out.” Remind students that there is a “best” answer, but that in some cases they can make correct arguments for other answers.

Activity (15 minutes)

  • Have students work individually to fill out the worksheet. If students are having trouble constructing a response, ask them to imagine using the Playground Physics app to record the scenario. What are some things they might see? You might also want to stage a few scenes using the app for inspiration.
  • Break students up into groups and ask them to agree on one answer for each row in the table.

Discussion (20 minutes)

  • Go through each question on the worksheet as a class. For each question, have groups share their answer and reasoning for it.
  • Do not be surprised when each group has a different response for which scenario is the odd one out. A correct answer is judged by the thinking behind the argument and not whether the answer is right or wrong. Look for the most compelling argument.
  • Remember to check the Parking Lot of questions at the end of the class period. Remove any questions that have been answered and add any new questions that may have come up.

Answer Key

Remember these responses are only best answers and with any good argument students may come up with alternative responses. As long as their claim is supported with enough evidence or reasoning, it is acceptable.

Row 1
Sample response: A tennis ball has PE as well as KE; the other three scenarios only have KE because they are on the ground and have no PE relative to the Earth; the tennis ball over the net is the odd one out.

Row 2

Sample response: A bowling ball rolling down the lane is the odd one out, it does not have any potential energy; the other three all have PE relative to the ground because they have height

Alternative response: One could argue that the rock on a slingshot has spring potential energy while the others have gravitational potential energy, but here you’ll have to argue that the bowling lane is on a second story floor or somehow above the ground.

Row 3

Sample response: Potential energy is the odd one out; speed and mass are components of kinetic energy which makes them a group where potential energy is left out.

Alternative response: Speed is the odd one out; mass is a component of potential energy and kinetic energy which makes them a group where speed is left out.

Row 4

Sample response: An airplane in flight is the odd one out; in all of the other scenarios, the total of kinetic energy plus gravitational potential energy remains the same while the object is in the air; the airplane has extra energy from the engine so if you added together KE and PE it would not be the same amount while the airplane is in the air.

Worksheet Previews

Screen Shot 2016-08-18 at 12.41.38 PM Screen Shot 2016-08-18 at 12.41.49 PM

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Big Idea

The purpose of this activity is to provide an opportunity for students to draw upon their knowledge of energy to analyze relationships between items in a group. The worksheet may also be used to stimulate small-group or whole-class discussion after students have had an opportunity to think through their own ideas.

Learning Objectives

  • Students will be able to use scientific reasoning to construct an argument about which scenario is the odd one out.
  • Students will be able to use experiences with the Playground Physics app to support their scientific reasoning.

Standards Addressed


Science and Engineering Practices
Engaging in Argumentation from Evidence: Construct and present oral and written arguments supported by empirical evidence and scientific reasoning to support or refute an explanation or a model for a phenomenon or a solution to a problem.


Literacy in Science

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.6-8.7: Integrate quantitative or technical information expressed in words in a text with a version of that information expressed visually (e.g., in a flowchart, diagram, model, graph or table).

Text Types and Purposes

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.6,7,8.1: Write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence.

Comprehension and Collaboration

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.6,7,8.1: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 6 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.6,7,8.3: Delineate a speaker’s argument and specific claims, distinguishing claims that are supported by reasons and evidence from claims that are not.


Standard 4: The Physical Setting

PS 4.1a: All energy transfers are governed by the law of conservation of energy.

PS 4.1c: Potential energy is the energy an object possesses by virtue of its position or condition.

PS 4.1d: Kinetic energy is the energy an object possesses by virtue of its motion.


  • Speed is how fast an object is moving regardless of its direction.
  • Kinetic energy (KE) is the energy of an object in motion.
  • Potential energy (PE) is stored energy that an object has as a result of its vertical position.