Camille Gales - Edward Coles Elementary School
Potential Energy: How is It Related to Kinetic Energy?
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Camille Gales Edward Coles Elementary School
8441 S. Yates Boulevard
CHICAGO IL 60617
This is an integrated primary level math and science experience designed to
demonstrate the relationship between potential energy and kinetic energy. The
greater the input of potential energy (altitude of the ramp), greater the
output of kinetic energy (distance traveled). The steeper the ramp the
greater the distance an object will travel (roll).
matchbox toy cars, a ramp with an altitude of 3 centimeters and a length of 28
centimeters, a ramp with an altitude of 6 centimeters and a length of 28
centimeters, a ramp with an altitude of 12 centimeters and a length of 28
centimeters, masking tape, a smooth flat surface, centimeter tapes or meter
Place the ramps on the floor or other smooth flat surface. Place the tapes or
meter sticks at the end of the ramps. Place each car at the top of the ramp
and release it. Measure the distance the car travels. Do three trials for
each of the three ramps. Record the results.
Primary level children: develop a chart that shows each trial run for the car (a
column for ramp height beside the column for distance traveled), develop a bar
graph for each ramp to display the results, explain the relationship between the
altitude of the ramp and the distance traveled by the car, accurately state that
the unit of measure being used is centimeters.
Intermediate and upper level children: average the results of the three trials,
interpret the results in terms of the relationship between the slope of the
angle of the ramps and the distance traveled, develop charts and graphs to
organize and display the data
The cars released from the ramp with the altitude of 12 centimeters should
travel the greatest distance. When the altitude of the ramp is doubled the
distance traveled should also double demonstrating that there is a direct
relationship between the altitude of the ramp (potential energy) and distance
traveled (kinetic energy).
Physics:Its Methods and Meaning. Alexander Taffel. Allyn and Bacon, 1986.
Primary Science Curriculum Guide Chicago Board of Education, 1979.