You need energy to do work. The same thing is true of objects which have either potential energy or kinetic energy depending on their state. To tell the difference between both types of energy requires understanding their state of being. What is true is that all objects have some form of potential energy, but it is only changed to kinetic energy when the object is put into motion.
This means that an object has two basic forms of energy, potential and kinetic. While both are different forms of energy, they are both measured in terms of Joules which demonstrates what is present.
What is Potential Energy?
This is a form of energy that is present in all objects depending on their position or their arrangement of interior parts. This type of energy includes chemical, nuclear, and electrical, although it may be as simple as the effect gravity has on it. For example, a round boulder sitting on a flat surface has little potential energy, apart perhaps from the wind or if something happens to the ground. However, if the same boulder was teetering on the edge of a slope or cliff, the potential energy is enormous.
Potential energy is measured in terms of its mass, height, or distance. This means that an object sitting on the edge of a cliff has far greater potential energy, because of gravity, compared to an identical object sitting at the bottom of a well. While all objects have potential energy, the potential may be quite small depending on the location.
What is Kinetic Energy?
This form of energy comes from the motion the object is currently experiencing. There are many forms of motion the employ kinetic energy which includes the following;
– Rotation: The spinning of an object in one place
– Vibration: The shaking of an object
– Translation: What moves an object from one location to another
The measurement of the kinetic energy is dependent on the mass and velocity of the object in question. From the calculation results in the exact measurement of the energy that is present. For example, if you were driving a vehicle and put it in neutral so that only the current velocity was propelling the car, you could calculate the kinetic energy based on the mass of the vehicle along with its speed.
How to Tell the Difference
The good news is that it is easy to tell the difference between potential and kinetic energy. Put simple, an object at rest that shows no signs of movement contains potential energy. While an object that is moving is demonstrated kinetic energy that can be measured which helps demonstrate how much energy is present.
You can experiment with different objects to measure their potential or kinetic energy by using the simple formula of mass, height, or distance for potential and mass plus velocity for kinetic. By understanding the difference, you can also understand the relationship that potential has with kinetic which helps explain the energy potential in all objects.
Help your pupils understand the true difference between kinetic energy and potential energy by employing the assistance of the Kinetic and Potential Energy Diagram for PowerPoint. This PowerPoint offers a visual aid that will show the different phases of energy in a way that is easier for students to see and understand. The single slide is totally customizable in terms of text, color and imagery, so that you can make it totally your own. The image presented is that of a tall green hill in front of a blue cloudy sky. Three bikes are on the hill, one going up, one on the crest and one heading down. It labels each one by kinetic energy in, potential energy and kinetic energy out.