LabLearner Discussions: Kinetic and Potential Energy Series

Kinetic and Potential Energy

Newton’s Cradle. Kinetic energy is the energy of motion. The kinetic energy of the ball on the end is transferred to the next ball, which transfers the energy to the next ball, so on down the line. When the last ball is hit, the kinetic energy causes it to kick out from the others. As this ball swings out and pauses before swinging back, all of its kinetic energy is converted into potential energy. Then, as it swings back, the potential energy is converted to kinetic energy, which is then transferred to the next ball and the progression continues.

Do the Discussions with your child in the order given below if possible. For our LabLearner teachers and families, curriculum units (CELLs) that are most relevant to the content are indicated at the end of each separate Discussion. Please subscribe for updates to be notified when new content is posted.


Newton's Cradle

Kinetic and Potential Energy


Kinetic energy is the energy of motion. Potential energy, on the other hand, is stored energy. In the first LabLearner Discussion, you will learn more about kinetic and potential energy and be introduced to one of the most important laws in all of science – The Law of Conservation of Energy. This law states that energy can not be created or destroyed, but can change forms. This law will be important for all of the LabLearner Discussions in the Kinetic and Potential Energy Series.

Much of human technological evolution has involved learning to control the conversion between potential and kinetic forms of energy. This Discussion focuses on a very obvious form of potential energy, gravitational potential energy. This is the energy of position. A pencil held in an outstretched hand has gravitational potential energy. When it is released, its gravitational potential energy is converted to the kinetic energy of movement and it falls to the floor.