A Demonstration of the Transfer of Energy

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Updated on Dec 09, 2011

Grade Level: 7th to 10th; Type: Physics


This experiment demonstrates the conservation and transfer of energy.

Research Questions:

  • At which angle did the marble roll the fastest?
  • With which sandpaper did the marble roll the fastest?
  • If you used a heavier marble, would it roll faster or slower and at which angles?
  • What is kinetic energy?
  • What is potential energy?
  • Where does the energy in the marble go?

Energy is always conserved, just changed into different forms. As a rolling marble hits small bumps on sandpaper, its energy is being transferred. But how does this affect the marble? This experiment demonstrates the effects of transferring energy.


  • 2 Books
  • Very Rough Sandpaper
  • Rough Sandpaper
  • Smooth Sandpaper
  • Small marble
  • Timer
  • Protractor
  • Volunteer
  • Ruler

Experimental Procedure

  1. Place one piece of sandpaper on a flat surface.
  2. Take one book and place it twelve inches down the sandpaper.
  3. Take the other book and slant it at a 45 degree angle using your protractor.
  4. Have a volunteer ready to time how long it takes the marble to roll to the end of the twelve inches of sandpaper.
  5. Roll the marble down the book and onto the sandpaper. Time and record the data.
  6. Repeat steps 1-5 using different angles like 20 degrees, 60 degrees, etc.
  7. Repeat steps1-6 using each of the different sandpaper types.
  8. Address the research questions.

Terms/Concepts: Slopes, Angles, Speed, Acceleration, Drag, Gravity, Kinetic Energy, Potential Energy


Kinetic and Potential Energy: http://ffden-2.phys.uaf.edu/211_fall2002.web.dir/sarah_schlichting/Energy.html

The Slope of and Angle: http://www.math.washington.edu/~greenber/slope.html

Acceleration: http://www.physicsclassroom.com/class/1dkin/u1l1e.cfm

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