How Does Energy Move from One Object to Another?

How Does Energy Move from One Object to Another?

This module is currently being field tested and is not yet available for purchase.

How Does Energy Move from One Object to Another? is part of Smithsonian Science for the Classroom, a curriculum series by the Smithsonian Science Education Center. It is designed to address a bundle of grade 4 physical and life science standards. In this module, students:

  • Collect evidence to show that energy can move from object to object and is indicated by movement, sound, heat, and light.
  • Carry out investigations to produce data that can be used to construct and support an explanation that the faster an object is moving, the more energy it possesses.
  • Use media, text, and model to investigate where the energy from the Space Shuttle Discovery Orbiter went as it slowed down in the atmosphere on its return to Earth from space.
  • Use biomimicry of the internal and external structures of the black walnut to propose a solution to problems presented by space capsules falling to Earth.
  • Design a model solution for the problems presented by space capsules falling to Earth, using an egg to model an astronaut.
  • Use models to investigate and produce data to explain the transfer of energy from the collision of a mallet and a croquet ball that is held still to a second croquet ball that moves due to contact forces.

Below are digital resources that support teaching of this module.

Lesson 1: An Energetic Enigma

Family Letter
Download the Family Letter PDF
Before starting How Does Energy Move from One Object to Another?, share the Family Letter with students’ caregivers. Indicate how they should submit responses to the letter.

Two Collisions [00:15]
Download the Two Collisions Video
This file shows two videos of moving die-cast cars colliding with stationary ones. It is used to present students with the central phenomenon of Lessons 1 through 6. The video is viewed multiple times throughout the lesson sequence.

Lesson 7: A Long Way Down

Discovery Landing [07:55]
This file shows a video of the final landing of the Space Shuttle Orbiter Discovery at Kennedy Space Center. See the teacher’s guide for details about what section to share with students.

Discovery Images
Download the Discovery Images PDF
This file contains images of different parts of the Space Shuttle Orbiter Discovery.

Discovery 3D
Orbiter, Space Shuttle, OV-103, Discovery | Smithsonian Institution (
This website has an interactive 3-D model of the Space Shuttle Orbiter Discovery.

Lesson 10: Safe Landing

Safe Landing
This website contains a simulation students will use to model the Space Shuttle Orbiter Discovery’s interaction with air as it traveled back to Earth.

Lesson 11: Dropped from Space

Coming Home from Space
Download the Coming Home from Space PDF
This file contains a PDF slideshow showing an astronaut in the International Space Station as well as the engineering model for the new Orion Space Capsule.

3D Apollo
This website contains a 3D interactive tour of the Apollo 11 space capsule. 

Historic Space Capsules
Download the Historic Space Capsules PDF
This file contains a PDF slideshow with several space capsules that were used during early space exploration by the United States of America.

Lesson 13: Engineering a Space Capsule

Model Space Capsule Requirements
Download the Model Space Capsule Requirements PDF
This file contains the criterial and constraints for the space capsule modeling activity.

Lesson 14: A Knockout Part 1

Download the Croquet PDF
This file contains a PDF slideshow providing general background information about the game croquet.

Croquet Knockout [00:03]
Download the Croquet Knockout Video
This video introduces students to their Science Challenge phenomenon. 

Kit Tips & Tricks