TIME REQUIRED: 1 hour MATERIALS: Small marble, large marble, Ping-Pong ball, golf ball, large pan, flour, yardstick ACTIVITY AND RESOURCE SHEETS: Potential Energy Activity Sheets A and B
BEFORE YOU BEGIN: Have students 3. Explain that cars use electric potential complete the pre-assessment. Save the energy to operate. When a driver starts pre-assessments until the end of the the car, the battery releases a jolt of unit to measure the growth in student electricity to power parts inside the knowledge. car. The fuel in the car’s gas tank holds chemical potential energy. When the PRE-ASSESSMENT ANSWER KEY: fuel burns, it undergoes a chemical 1. C; 2. B; 3. D; 4. B; 5. A; 6. A; 7. C; 8. D; reaction that unleashes energy to 9. 10. D; D power the car’s engine and propel the vehicle around the track. Batteries Central question: are unique because they hold energy in chemical form, but they release THINK What is potential energy? potential energy in its current state. electric energy! (Fun fact: NASCAR (No, because there’s no distance racecars use Sunoco Green E15 as 1. Introduce the concept of potential for gravity to pull it toward Earth.) fuel. Just like a car, the human body energy—energy that is stored due Raise the marble about one foot in relies on chemical potential energy to an object’s position or condition. the air. Ask whether the ball now stored in another type of fuel—food. Explain that the word “potential” means has any potential energy. (Yes.) By breaking down food, our bodies having the ability to do something. 3. Drop the marble into a large pan get the energy they need to survive.) Therefore, potential energy is energy filled with a few inches of flour. that has not yet been used. Gently remove it from the pan, and 4. Describe how a racecar also has a suspension system between its 2. To illustrate the concept of potential have a volunteer measure the width wheels and its base. This system energy, ask students to imagine a of the impact crater left in the flour. contains flexible springs that store racecar sitting on the top of a steep Climb on a chair and drop the marble elastic potential energy. This type banking. (See the Build section from a height of about seven feet. of energy—also called mechanical of Lesson 2: Kinetic Energy for a Measure the new impact crater. energy—is energy stored in an object description of racetrack bankings.) Repeat the experiment with the large due to its tension. When the car hits a Tell students that in this position the marble, the Ping-Pong ball, and the bump in the road, the springs absorb car is loaded with a specific type of golf ball. Have students take notes the impact by compressing. Then they potential energy, called gravitational throughout the experiment. After stretch to release the stored energy, potential energy. Explain that when the demonstration is complete, ask pushing the tire back against the road. an object, like a racecar, is far above them to draw conclusions about how This helps prevent the car’s wheels the ground, a force called gravity pulls mass and height impact the amount from losing their grip on the track. it downward toward Earth’s surface. of potential energy an object has.
Central question: Central question: Central question: How do we identify the What affects the amount of What types of potential TEAM UP different types of potential MOVE potential energy an object has? BUILD energy exist? energy around us? 1. Explain that the potential energy of 1. Hand out Potential Energy Activity Divide students into groups, and hand an object is measured by its ability to Sheet A. Tell students that out Potential Energy Activity Sheet B. Tell exert a specific amount of force for a gravitational potential energy is students to study the scenes on the sheet particular distance. There are three just one type of potential energy. and search for examples of potential factors that determine how much Have them complete the activity to energy. See which group can identify the gravitational potential energy an learn about three other forms. most objects with stored energy. Answers: object has: gravity, height, and mass. 2. Now that students understand Chemical: snacks in box in stands, gas, Gravity is constant, but differences potential energy’s different forms, battery, racecar, blimp; Gravitational: tire in an object’s mass and height can have them imagine a racecar sitting raised, food raised overhead, man holding increase or decrease the amount of in position on the starting grid before flag, man climbing ladder;Electric: potential energy the object has. the start of a NASCAR race. Ask: lamppost, lights in the viewing boxes, 2. To demonstrate, set a small marble What forms of potential energy might television camera; Elastic: muscles, tires, on the floor of your classroom. the car have before it starts moving? air compressor. Ask students if the marble has