Where's The Energy?


What is Energy?


Energy makes change; it does things for us. It moves cars along the road and boats over the water. It bakes a cake in the oven and keeps ice frozen in the freezer. It plays our favorite songs on the radio and lights our homes. Energy makes our bodies grow and allows our minds to think. Scientists define energy as the ability to do work. People have learned how to change energy from one form to another so that we can do work more easily and live more comfortably.


Forms of Energy


Energy is found in different forms, such as light, heat, sound and motion. There are many forms of energy, but they can all be put into two categories: kinetic and potential.


The following is from:


Types of Energy



Big Questions:

1. What is it?

2. How does it work?



Kinetic Energy-



Basic Terminology and Concepts


Virtual Lab for Kinetic Energy- AKA Newton's Law

Formula for  Kinetic Energy 

Conservation of energy =



Potential Energy-


Basic Terminology and Concepts


Potential Energy Simulation



It all about the Smoothy Moves


Newtons Laws with cool picture examples


 Which law describes this?



 Which law is this?


Big Questions


1. Who was the scientist who gave us the Laws of Motion?

2. How many Laws of Motion are there?

3. What is another name for the first law of motion?

4. Which law explains why we need to wear seatbelts?

5. Which law says that force is equal to mass times acceleration (F=MA)?

6. Which law says that heavier objects require more force than lighter objects to move or accelerate them?

7. Which law explains how rockets are launched into space?

8. Which law says that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction?

Questions from


Energy, Forces, and Motion 




 Interactive examples that demonstrate key concepts


Forces and Movement

Forces In Action

MIT OpenCourseWare: Force and Potential Energy Forces of Nature

Activity Exchange: Acceleration and Force

© Walter Scheider 2003

#00 Title


Models that represent "Energy"
#01 PE-gravitation, falling object to table
#02a rolling push - no friction
#02b sliding push - with friction
#03 PE-gravitation, falling object to table
#04 Energy scheme

What is behind the energy scheme?
#05a "skeleton" of the derivation of Work-Energy Theorem
#05b Work-Energy Theorem

The Frames of reference problem
#06a PE-gravitation, falling object to table
#06b PE-gravitation falling object to floor
#06c PE-grav falling object to table//to floor

Nature's deafening silence about velocity
#11 Meredith 01 - on the ground
#11a Meredith 01-steps - timed work
#12 Meredith 02 - on the stationary bus
#13 Meredith 03 - moving bus, observer on the bus
#14 Meredith 04 - moving bus, observer on the ground

Energy is not substance-like - The failure of flow to track
#15 rocket01 scuttling fuel tank observer in initial rocket frame
#16 rocket02 scuttling fuel tank observer on earth

Do measurements in any particular frame of reference have meaning?
#18 Meaning of measurements: two points in a plane -- axes

Conservation of Energy in closed systems
                                     #21 Work-Energy Theorem to Conservation Law, algebra
#22a WE-theorem -- Potential Energy
#22b Potential Energy and Closed Systems
                          Rocket in closed and not-closed system
                          #23a Rockets both in rocket frame and earth frame
                          #23b Rockets closed system
                          #23c Rockets system with fuel tank outside
                          #24 reprise -- axes

#31 rollercoaster

Are there different kinds of energy?

Where does energy come from? Bonds
#41 Energy scheme
#42 Forces of attraction: Bonds00
#43 hydroelectric power
#44 Chemical bonds - fuel (carbon + oxygen)

Is nuclear energy exempt from the Work-Energy principle?
#45 What DOESN'T happen in uranium fission
#46 nuclear bond energy graph
#47 What DOES happen in uranium fission

Where does chemical (and all other) bond energy come from?
#48 forces and energy in ionic bonds
#49 forces and energy in charged cookie sheets

#51 activation in 4-cycle internal combustion engine
#52 schematic of ener-barrier
#53 random energy to lift domino over energy barrier

Chemistry -- energy barriers, systems going toward equilibrium
#54 dice02 -- 4 aces rolled
#55 dice03 -- 4 aces loaded dice
#56 dice04 -- 4 three's loaded dice
#56 going to equilibrium - exothermic reactions
#57 going to equilibrium - endothermic reactions

miscellaneous teaching movies
#61steam cycle
#62how does the table know how hard to push up to support a winebottle


The Task


Student pairs take a look at pictures of moving objects to determine the location of potential and kinetic energy. They label the pictures to indicate when the object is in each energy position.




Leading the Activity


Involve students in a discussion of potential and kinetic energy. Review the procedures. Distribute the activity sheet to each student. Encourage the students to work in pairs as they discuss and evaluate the pictures on the activity sheet and indicate the potential and kinetic energy positions.



  1. Observe the object in each picture on the activity sheet.
  2. Discuss the movement of the object and the object positions.
  3. Label the potential energy and kinetic energy positions on the picture.
  4. Describe how potential and kinetic energy interact and affect the motion of the object.
  5. Think about and share ideas for drawing a picture on the back of the activity sheet that illustrates the interaction of potential and kinetic energy.
  6. Draw the picture and label the energy positions.
  7. Describe how potential and kinetic energy interact and affect the movement of the object in the drawing.





Virtual Labs


1 The name of this "learning tool" is called Using Electricity. Use the blue arrows in the upper right hand corner to go through the simulation. This tool has been developed by the and their Science Clips program. These are very clear, concise, and effective lessons for young students. Flash is required.

2 Yes, it is in French, but this "learning tool" is easy and elegant to figure out. The name is Circuit Electrique. See you already know it is about electricity! Just click  arrows and then select the items you want to build your circuit. You have the choice of 2 circuits. The rest is up to you to play with. This wonderful tool was developed through the Space Museum of France. Flash is required.

3 One of the most spectacular learning tools we have ever seen! The name of this extraordinary learning tool is called Launchball and has been produced by the Science Museum of London. Students love this intuitive interactive. Once they get to the site, have students select "Play the Levels", they don't need a code (they will for saving their work), then have them do the "Warm Up". This will teach them all they need to know to explore this incredible virtual world of electricity, heat, magnetism, forces, motion, and the conducting power of copper. Just incredible!

4 Power Play is a “learning tool” from Science NetLinks. This interactive is a great resource when teaching students about physics. In particular, this is a great opportunity to challenge students to do some critical thinking about energy and power!

5 The name of this "learning tool" is called Circuits and Conductors. Use the blue arrows in the upper right hand corner to go through the simulation. This tool has been developed by the and their Science Clips program. These are very clear, concise, and effective lessons for young students. Flash is required.

6 One of the most innovative science education companies is, they call their simulations, Gizmos. They are a subscription site, but they allow you to see this Gizmo for 5 minutes . Just click on the Doppler Effect (1 Source)  to see their wonderful "learning tool".  Shockwave is required.


Sunsite Funsite is a "learning tool" which comes to us from the Tuscon Electric Power Company. These simple, elegantly designed animations explore Solar Energy, Chemical Energy, Photovoltaics and more. Shockwave is required for these animations.

8 This is just a wonderful "learning tool", students are challenged to build Energy Street. By designing a street that balances happiness and energy efficiency students learn about city planning and the transfer of energy! This interactive was produced by Wonderville and the groundbreaking pioneers of science education at  Science Alberta.  

9 Visualizing electrical circuits can be difficult for students. This "learning tool" is called Electrical Circuits. One of the most innovative science education companies is, they call their simulations, Gizmos. They are a subscription site, but they allow you to see this Gizmo for 5 minutes.   Shockwave is required.

10 Heat deals with the behavior of substances when heated and cooled.  It’s an online mystery in which students attempt to identify the everyday substance that is the exception to the rules of expansion and contraction. This learning tool is provided by the Los Angeles County Office of Education.


Rollar Coasters -

Energy, Physics working together to thrill you!


It is your mission to design a rollarcoaster so that you can provide maximum thrills without crashing or flying off the track, and protecting the safety of the riders.

You must decide on a number of factors. You are responsible for setting the controls for the height of hill #1, hill #2, the size of the loop, the initial speed of the coaster, its mass, the gravity at work and the amount of friction on the tr


Conservation of Energy


Create a coaster




NoLimits is the ultimate roller coaster simulation

game that lets you experience authentic roller coaster thrills. Focusing on realism and speed, NoLimits lets you ride real existing coasters, or build a roller coaster to your own specifications. The program reproduces the physical dynamics of a real roller coaster, with its animated objects, dynamic 3D shadows, and detailed rendering of curved 3D surfaces.| Download


The Principles that Apply to Coaster Design include:






Machines of Steel
  Machines of Steel
Take a virtual ride on one of these metallic monsters.


Joker's Jinx
  Wooden Wonders
See traditional wooden coasters that can still thrill your pants off!


  Heroes & Villains
Watch and judge if the good guys win these coaster ride battles.


  The Extremes
Check out these ultimate thrill rides and see if you can hang with the big kids.


Watch the Brian Pop Movie  by clicking below



Overall Energy

Forms of Energy- how many scientists think about energy

Energy Calculators- common energy units and conversions

British Thermal Units(Btu) - explanation and examples

The Periodic Table- the chemical elements



Fun with Energy



Let's Explore Alternative Energy!



Wind Power

For thousands of years people have harnessed the wind's energy. People used the wind to sail their ships on the rivers and oceans. Later windmill's were built and used to grind wheat, corn, and other grains and later to pump water from wells and to cut wood in sawmills. Today we use wind energy to generate electricity.

Wind is a renewable fuel because it uses the heat of the sun (solar energy) so there is no fossil fuel needed to make wind.


Where does wind come from?

Wind is caused by the uneven heating of the earth's surface by the sun. During the day the air above the land heats up faster than the air above water like oceans and lakes. The air above the water is cooler and heavier. The uneven heating of the air is because the earth is made up of different surfaces and elevations, like the oceans, lakes and rivers, forests and jungles, deserts and mountains. The warm air over the land expands and rises and the cooler air over the water rushes in to take the place of the warmer air creating winds.


Harnessing the Wind

We can harness the wind's energy using wind machines. The wind flows over the windmill blades mounted on a rotor causing it to lift or turn much like an airplane propeller. This effect is also called kinetic energy. The blades are connected to a driveshaft that turns a generator to make electricity. For utility-scale wind energy, large numbers of wind machines are built close together to form a wind farm.


Types of Wind Machines

There are two types of modern wind machines.


Wind Machine

The Horizontal-Axis Wind Machine stands as tall as a 20-story-building. They have three blades that span 200 feet across and are taller and wider so that they can capture more wind. These are the most common types of wind machines.


Vertical-Axis Wind Machine

The second type is the Vertical-Axis Wind Machine. It stands about 100 feet tall and is only 50 feet wide. They have only two blades and look something like a giant spinning egg beater.

For more information on Wind Energy, check out the U.S. Department of Energy.


All About Solar Power

Solar Power is energy produced by the sun in the form of heat and light. The sun is 93 million miles from the earth and is 4 to 5 billion years old. The temperature of the sun ranges from 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit at its surface to more than 18 million degrees Fahrenheit at its center. That’s HOT! It takes about 8 minutes for this energy to reach the earth. The sun itself is a star made up of mostly hydrogen and helium gas and it radiates an enormous amount of energy every day.

Solar energy is clean, it does not pollute the air, land or water and there is lots of it, meaning solar energy is a “renewable fuel.” The amount of solar energy that reaches us in one day, could supply our power needs for up to one year! By using more solar energy we can conserve more of our fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas. Solar energy is becoming more popular as we find better ways of harnessing the sun’s energy.

How We Use Solar Energy


How We Use Solar Energy

There are lots of ways we use solar energy. We can harness the sun's energy by using solar collectors. These collectors enable us to use the heat from the sun to warm our homes and heat our water. They can be installed anywhere the sun shines but are usually installed on roofs for maximum sun exposure.

There are two ways we can produce electricity from the sun:


What is Geothermal Energy

Geothermal energy is heat generated 4,000 miles deep inside the earth's core which is made up of iron. We call the center of the earth the iron core. The center of the earth is very hot and the earth is made up of several layers:

1. Crust - The earth's surface is the crust which is up to 40 miles deep. The earth's crust makes up the continents and ocean floors.

2. Mantle - The layer beneath the crust is the mantle which is approximately 1,800 miles deep. The mantle is made up of magma (or lava) and rock. When you see a volcano erupt the lava from the volcano has magma in it.

3. Outer Core: The third layer is called the outer core which is made up of iron and magma.

4. Iron Core: This is the center of the earth which is made up of iron.

The word Geothermal comes from the Greek word geo - meaning earth, and therme - meaning heat. Geothermal energy was first used by ancient people for heating water for bathing. There are lots of natural hotsprings around the world that are heated by the earth and are used for bathing.

Perhaps the most famous geothermal activity is the geyser "Old Faithful" in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. Natural geysers form when underground chambers fill with water and are heated geothermally by the earth. When the water is heated to its boiling point it creates steam. The pressure from the steam causes the geyser to erupt, spewing its contents, and the cycle starts all over again.

Geothermal energy is also a renewable energy source. The earth continuously produces rain for water and magma for producing heat. Deep inside the earth the water and rocks absorb the heat from the magma and we can dig wells and pump out the heated water or steam. This heated water can be used for heating and generating electricity




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