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Categorizations of Energy: Forms, Carriers, Types, and Transfers
American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) Winter Meeting (2013)
  • Sarah B. McKagan, Seattle Pacific University
  • Benedikt W. Harrer, University of Maine
  • Rachel E. Scherr, Seattle Pacific University
Energy is ultimately unified, but manifests in a variety of ways. Most national and state standards, textbooks, and other instructional materials emphasize forms of energy as an important tool for categorizing the manifestations of energy. However, the new Framework for K-12 Science Education, the basis for the Next Generation Science Standards, cautions against talking about forms of energy as “misleading.” This caution aligns with recommendations from some science educators, who support the use of “energy carriers” as an alternative to energy forms. We discuss the distinctions between the multiplicity of alternatives to energy forms, and the advantages and disadvantages of these different methods of categorizing energy. Depending on how we teach them, students may use any of these categorizations of energy as meaningless and superficial lists to be memorized, or as important tools for making sense of the properties of systems and the mechanisms by which these properties change.
Publication Date
Winter January, 2013
New Orleans, LA
Citation Information
Sarah B. McKagan, Benedikt W. Harrer and Rachel E. Scherr. "Categorizations of Energy: Forms, Carriers, Types, and Transfers" American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) Winter Meeting (2013)
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