Slam dunk

Dribble, jump, shoot - this game of basketball introduces kids to the idea of energy transformations.

Activity Image
20 mins
Hands on


Hit the gym to learn about the different forms of energy involved in a game of basketball and witness real-life energy transformations on the court.  


What you'll need

  • Basketballs

  1. Head outside or to the gym.
  2. Start by talking about which forms of energy are involved in playing basketball:  
    • Chemical, mechanical, gravitational, elastic and sound
  3. Time to play! Pair up and play basketball while identifying the energy transformations that are happening.
  4. To wrap up, talk about the game and how the different movements relate to energy:
    • Chemical energy in the body changes to kinetic energy as your hand pushes the basketball.
    • Gravitational energy is stored in the ball when it’s above ground.
    • The gravitational energy in the ball changes to kinetic energy as it moves towards the ground.
    • The ball creates sound energy when it hits the ground.
    • Elastic energy in the ball gives the ball mechanical energy, making it bounce back up.

Modify or extend this activity

  • Students explore other examples of energy transformations in the gym or outside.
  • Have your students invent a game that uses as many energy transformations as possible.
  • Have students explain the basketball transformations involved in their science notebooks.

Curriculum Fit

Grade 4 Science 

Big idea

  • Energy can be transformed

Curricular competencies

Questioning and predicting
  • Demonstrate curiosity about the natural world 
Applying and innovating
  • Transfer and apply learning to new situations
  • Represent and communicate ideas and findings in a variety of ways, such as diagrams and simple reports, using digital technologies as appropriate

Teaching Notes

What is energy? 

Energy is the ability or capacity to do work. Energy makes change possible. It is the power or ability to make things happen.

Forms of energy

Bouncing a basketball involves many forms of energy and transformations.

Food provides our bodies with chemical energy to power our muscles. The movement in our arm (kinetic energy) is transferred to the ball, which moves towards the ground with energy from our arm and from the gravitational energy stored in the ball when it’s held at height.

Sound energy is produced by the vibrations of the ball hitting the ground.

Elastic energy in the ball gives it kinetic energy, moving it away from the floor. 


  • Assess students’ willingness to contribute ideas and explanations about the energy transformations that occur.

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