Essential Questions 4.2

Anticipatory Set

Before the days of the Stone Age, humans lived in fear of fire, it was something dangerous and to be avoided. Eventually we learned to heat and cook with it. Cooking over an open fire is very inefficient; much of the available energy was wasted. Cooking on an outdoor charcoal grill only uses about 2% of the energy to cook with.

Many of our advances today come from our understanding of the conversion of energy from one form to another. There is an infinite sea of energy around us; waiting for us to put it to use. For eons fire was there but we were ignorant. We developed heat engines, electricity, sails, and windmills. Energy became transportable. We speak now of running out of oil and other fossil fuels and how we will need new energy sources.

While it is theoretical that we can’t make our devices use all the energy available, we can make them much more efficient. We will tap new sources of heat energy, fusion, sunshine, wave motion and invent new technologies to take advantage of these heat sources. The future is yours to develop.

Key Terms

British Thermal Unit
Chemical Energy


Elastic Potential Energy
Electromagnetic Energy
Gravitational Potential Energy

Heat Capacity
Heat Engine

Kinetic Energy
Mechanical Energy

Nuclear Energy

Thermal Energy



  1. How can I take the energy from a camp fire and use it to cool my ice chest?

  1. How does a jet engine move an airplane?