Energy stores and transfers

This topic covers the different ways in which energy can be stored and transferred; ways in which energy is stored on the racing boats; and ways in which energy is transferred between the boat and its surroundings.

The resources in BT STEM Crew can be used either in sequence or flexibly as an introduction to a topic, or for a quick activity.

Introduce the topic of energy sources and transfers with our starter film, discussing energy transfers in both the boat and the crew. Test students' knowledge with an engaging interactive. Our differentiated worksheets reinforce learning objectives for this topic.


 This film introduces the idea that the boat needs to make best use of energy. The crew act as energy stores for controlling the boat, and the use of insulated clothing reduces energy transfers from crew bodies to the surroundings.

Interactive quiz

Learn about energy stores and transfers. Challenge your students to get to grips with the different types of energy to see if they have what it takes to join the team.

Launch interactive


Test students' learning with these differentiated worksheets.

Worksheet 1

11-14 lower

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Worksheet 2

11-14 higher

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Worksheet 3


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Teacher's notes


To introduce the topic you could write a list of races on the board (sprinter, Formula 1 car, track cyclist, racing yacht). Ask students to describe the energy store that is used to make them move. Elicit ideas about energy stored in fuels (including food/human body) and energy in moving wind.

Suggested activity

Students investigate streamlining by making different shapes from modelling clay and timing how long they take to fall down a transparent tube full of wallpaper paste. Discuss why paste is used (slows them down enough so you can tell the difference). Students relate their conclusions to the hull design of racing yachts, and also link this to the best shape being the most efficient in terms of transferring the least amount of wasted energy to the water/surroundings.


Quick-fire questions asking for examples of different ways of storing and transferring energy.

Further ideas/ STEM club ideas

Build model sailing boats (probably just Viking-ship style with square sail) and investigate link between sail area and speed of boat when driven by air from a fan.

Curriculum links


KS3 NC Science – Physics

Energy changes and transfers

  • Heating and thermal equilibrium: temperature difference between two objects leading to energy transfer from the hotter to the cooler one, through contact (conduction) or radiation; such transfers tending to reduce the temperature difference: use of insulators
  • Other processes that involve energy transfer: changing motion, dropping an object, completing an electrical circuit, stretching a spring, metabolism of food, burning fuels.

Changes in systems

  • Comparing the starting with the final conditions of a system and describing increases and decreases in the amounts of energy associated with movements, temperatures, changes in positions in a field, in elastic distortions and in chemical compositions
  • Using physical processes and mechanisms, rather than energy, to explain the intermediate steps that bring about such changes.

GCSE Science


  • 3.3 Draw and interpret diagrams to represent energy changes
  • 3.5 Analyse the changes involved in the way energy is stored when a system changes, including: a) an object projected upwards or up a slope, b) a moving object hitting an obstacle, c) an object being accelerated by a constant force, d) a vehicle slowing down, e) bringing water to a boil in an electric kettle
  • 3.7 Explain that mechanical processes become wasteful when they cause a rise in temperature so dissipating energy in heating the surroundings
  • 3.8 Explain, using examples, how in all system changes energy is dissipated so that it is stored in less useful ways
  • 3.9 Explain ways of reducing unwanted energy transfer including through lubrication, thermal insulation

AQA and OCR are similar spec.


KS3 Science


  • the conservation of energy and ways in which energy can be stored
  • how familiar devices/machines work by using electricity, light, sound and other energy transfers
  • the forces in devices and their relationship to work done and power

KS4 Science

  • Understand energy transfers can be measured and their efficiency calculated
  • Understand that electrical power is readily transferred and controlled, and can be used in a range of different situations.


Third level Science

  • Consider examples where energy is conserved & identify the energy source, how it is transferred and ways of reducing wasted energy

Forth level Science

  • Use knowledge of the different ways in which heat is transferred between hot and cold objects and the thermal conductivity of materials to improve energy efficiency in buildings or other systems
  • Gain knowledge of how formulae may be used in the context of energy transfer and mechanical systems and apply them to solve problems, for example in engineering

National 5 Physics

  • Knowledge of the principle of ‘conservation of energy’ applied to examples where energy is transferred between stores. Identification and explanation of ‘loss’ of energy where energy is transferred.

Northern Ireland

KS3 Science & Technology

  • Pupils should be enabled to explore the causes and effect of energy, forces and movement
  • Pupils should have opportunities to learn about forces and energy transfer, using electricity, sound and light

GCSE Physics

  • 1.2.1 investigate, in terms of the Principle of Conservation of Energy, energy transfers involving the following forms of energy: chemical, heat, electrical, sound, light, magnetic, kinetic and potential (gravitational and strain); 
  • 1.2.5 describe and explain various ways of making better use of energy
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