Potential and Kinetic Energy

Metal springs store potential energy

Potential Energy is the energy stored in a body or system due to its position or configuration. The spring is a classic example of a mechanical device used to store energy. Pull the spring to store energy in the spring. Kinetic Energy is the energy possessed by its motion. In a spring attached to a storm door, the act of opening the door will cause potential energy to be stored by the springs. When the door is released, it begins to close due to the release of energy in the springs causing the door's motion to swing back closed. Another example of potential and kinetic energy is represented by the wooden rollercoaster.

Texas Giant Rollercoaster

The lessons in this unit are geared to students in middle school and high school. Students will learn about heat as a form of energy, how the Earth stores energy and it is released and then develop an understanding of the relationship between potential and kinetic energy through hands-on experimentation.

Images: Springs by Wikimedia Commons, Texas Giant Rollercoaster by BrandonR Wikimedia Commons.