Running the Stairs: Measuring Work, Energy, and Power

This Running the Stairs: Measuring Work, Energy, and Power lesson plan also includes:

When the class runs for the hills in this activity, they return with a deeper understanding of the math behind the physics concept of work. Beginning with a physical experiment and ending with a thoughtful analysis of results, learners get a hands-on understanding of how work works. Detailed procedure and student handouts make for an activity that is both engaging and tightly focused on curriculum goals.

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CCSS: Designed
Instructional Ideas

  • Extend the questions of work to famous people and heights (the President atop the Empire State Building, Napoleon ascending the Eiffel Tower, Cleopatra and the Great Pyramid, etc.)
  • Use science-fair style presentation of results and conclusions 
Classroom Considerations

  • Exercise sensitivity regarding individuals' weight or speed
  • Might require the need for modification in consideration of disabilities 
  • Choose appropriate (non-disruptive) staircases ahead of time, or assign the experiment portion of the lesson for homework

  • Hands-on activity followed by mathematical analysis for experiential learning
  • Emphasis on cross-curricular links between physics and math concepts
  • Questions lead learners step by step through analysis and interpretation to meaningful conclusions

  • Assessment lesson quiz is referenced, but not linked
  • No universal design modifications suggested