Back and Forth

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Author: Muriel Gerhard

Grade Level: 7th; Type: Physics/Physical Science


To determine whether we can change from potential energy to kinetic energy and from kinetic to potential? 

Research Questions:

  • How do we define energy?
  • What is potential energy?
  • What is kinetic energy?
  • List examples of potential and kinetic energy.
  • What is the Law of Conservation of Energy?
  • What are the practical applications of The Law of Conservation of Energy? 

Data Chart: Reproduce This Chart for Recording Your Observations


         Distance Travelled in metrics



On the information level, this experiment serves to acquaint students with basic information on kinetic and potential energy. First and foremost the term energy is defined as the property of an object that allows it to produce change in the environment or in itself. Kinetic energy is defines as the energy an object has because of its motion as opposed to potential energy which is the energy an object has stored in it that can cause it to move. Potential energy is also viewed as energy of position. An object in an elevated position, such as a car on a hill has potential energy. If the brakes fail the car will roll down the hill using and releasing its potential energy and converting it in to kinetic energy.  An object in a stretched or compressed position has potential energy. For example the stretched bow of an archer demonstrates this. The archer first pulls the bow string towards himself, storing the energy in the bow, when he releases the bow, the energy of position has just been trans formed into the energy of motion, namely kinetic energy and the arrow moves forward. We use kinetic energy when we wind the spring on a mechanical toy. Each wind or turn of the key adds more tension on the spring giving us more potential energy. When we release the toy, the stored potential energy now changes to kinetic energy and the toy takes off. This project focuses on the conservation of energy. The question you will address will give you the evidence you need to answer your original question, can one kind of energy be converted into the other and is the reverse true? Good luck!

This science fair experiment also serves to acquaint students with the essential processes of sciencing such as the importance of the use of a control, of identifying dependent and independent variables, of data collection, of pictorial and or graphic presentation of data and of being able to make better judgments as to the validity and reliability of their findings. They take on the role of scientists and in the process they learn to act as one.

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