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strategies to encourage conceptual change where misconceptions are resilient. Thus,
constructivist principles have become embedded at government level.

When viewing the QCA (2000) schemes in conjunction with the KS3 National Strategy,
the model of energy presented is very much more focused than the National Curriculum
and arguably open to far less interpretation. Although the language tends to suggest
contemporary ‘transfers’ approach, both ‘transfers’ and ‘transformations’ of energy are
explicit and necessary for pupils to learn.

A hypothetical prediction of the conceptual aspects of energy likely to be tested in KS3
SATs includes:
◊ identify all the various energy forms;
◊ an ‘energy change’ – a transformation chain or a description of a
transfer would both be acceptable;
◊ the surroundings as the place where energy ultimately ends up –
identified as ‘heat’ and /or that energy has spread out and even ‘lost’;
◊ the law of energy conservation – look for where quantities of energy do
not add up on Sankey diagrams.

Higher level questions tend to move away from explanation/description to numerical
calculations. These may include energy efficiency and work. Given skill in mathematics
(which may not be prevalent), it is argued that it is possible to obtain correct answers to
such numerical questions without actually understanding the meaning of the equation in
which the numbers have been substituted. This further reinforces that KS3 is the time
when all the conceptual learning for energy occurs – if this is missed then what is left is
mathematics at KS4 (this view is supported by observing the quantitative nature of the
energy strand in the National Curriculum at KS4, DFE, 1995; DfEE, 1999a).

With the advent of the world wide web, the traditional model of energy transformations
has taken firm root on educational websites. Multi-media has been taken full advantage of
in displays e.g. animations, sound – at the very least many pictures are easily
downloadable which previously would have to have been kept by a science department in
texts. However, it has been difficult, if not impossible to find similarly rich examples of
educational materials on the world wide web which promote contemporary energy
thinking. In fact, the existence of these resources has not been accompanied by any shift of
emphasis in conceptualisation – only a more stimulating, more easily accessible
reinforcement of the old model.
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