Talk about hands on! Students love interacting with Genecons. There's such a direct connection between cranking the handle and producing electricity. In my energy conservation unit, for example, students can experience energy as electrical current plus heat, sound and electromagnet static.
Where Did the Energy Go?
Lots of experiments demonstrate energy transfer, but very few show students the law of energy conservation in action. This lab is one of the best, and though it's very simple, the Genecons make it very exciting for students.
Attach two Genecons together so that one becomes the generator and the other the motor. Instruct students to practice generating electrical current by turning the generator's handle 1 time. Next, ask students to predict how many handle turns will be produced in the motor when the generator is turned 10 times. Turn the generator 10 times as the students count how many times the motor's handle actually turns. How can they explain the difference?
For example, if 10 energy units results in 7 energy units of output, what happened to the other 3? One unit produces sound (they can hear the current whirring). One unit produces heat (the energy graveyard!). And the last unit becomes electromagnetic energy.
To demonstrate this electromagnetic energy, put an AM radio between the generator and motor and tune it between stations. As students crank the generator, they actually hear energy being converted into electromagnetic static.
Gene Easter: With more than 36 years' experience teaching high school physics, Gene continues to teach Physical Science Methods classes at Kent State University. He is also half of the nationally acclaimed Flying Bernoulli Brothers.