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Energy Transfer: Gravitational Potential Energy to Kinetic Energy

Submitted by PocketLab on Thu, 06/01/2017 - 19:05

Exploring Energy Transfer

The law of conservation of energy tells us that energy can neither be created nor destroyed. Instead it changes from one form of energy to another. Potential energy is energy that is stored in an object. Potential energy can transfer into other forms of energy like kinetic energy. Kinetic energy is energy in an object because of its motion.

Gravitational Potential Energy Transfer to Kinetic Energy

For example, a ball held in the air has gravitational potential energy, because if released, the force of gravity will transfer the potential energy to kinetic energy as the ball moves faster and faster toward the Earth. The higher the ball the more gravitational potential energy it has because when released, it will fall for a greater distance, generating more kinetic energy.

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Lab Activity

The transfer of energy from Gravitational to Kinetic can be shown with a cart on a ramp. When the cart is released and rolls down the ramp, the Gravitational Potential Energy is transferred to Kinetic Energy, and the amount of Kinetic Energy increases as the cart velocity increases. This can be measured experimentally with a sensor such as a PocketLab. 

Cart and Ramp to demonstrate Energy Transfer

In the attached pdf lab activity, students will explore the following:
1. Collect data to calculate the different types of energy in a system at different instances.
2. Create graphical displays of data to represent the amount and type of energy in a system at different instances.
3. Determine how the kinetic energy of an object is related to the mass of the object and the speed of the object.

Download the FREE attached pdf file for a complete lab activity

The lab activity includes Exploration, Materials, Objective, Forumlas and Key Words, Teacher Demo, Lab Groups, Conclusion, and Engineering Challenge. This lab is suitable for Middle School and High School students.

VelocityLab diagram
Grade Level