Mass Energy Equivalence

Link to the demonstrator: in English


Age: 15-17

Duration: 3 hours

Equipment: PC with internet connection

Contact details

Author: Emmanuel Chaniotakis (EA)
Contact: info[at]frontiers-project[dot]eu


This demonstrator introduces the most famous equation in Physics, E = mc2 to students. Students form a research question about the meaning of mass-energy equivalence, and they explore the equation and its applications. Students examine the units and calculations required to apply Einstein’s equation to real life. Students gain experience of completing calculations and compare their results to the experimentally collected data. Students understand that the law of conservation of energy and the law of conservation of mass don’t apply individually but together. They watch videos which explain this effect and its applications to real world phenomena.


Learning outcomes:

  1. To introduce students to the most famous equation in the history of Physics.
  2. To provide an introduction to the basic principles behind nuclear fission using mass-energy equivalence.
  3. To demonstrate that energy and mass are not conserved separately in nature.


Prior knowledge:

  • Concept of mass
  • Concept of energy
  • Chemical formula
  • Solving linear equations


Concepts introduced:


  • Mass-Energy
  • Nuclear power 
  • Radioactivity
  • The electronvolt unit
  • The atomic mass unit



Learning intentions:

By the end of this descriptor, students should be able to:

  • Identify the significance of Einstein’s equation
  • List examples of processes where energy is created according to E=mc2
  • Change the units of energy between eV and J
  • Change the mass of a particle from amu to kg
  • Calculate the loss/gain in mass from a chemical reaction and use this to calculate the energy created/required according to E=mc2
  • Explain the relationship between mass and energy


Key activities:

  1. Matching activity of key words to images
  2. Converting units’ calculations
  3. Develop hypothesis and test using calculations
  4. Summary presentation

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