Education Technology

Potential and Kinetic Energy

Published on 07/31/2010

Activity Overview

Students explore the relationship between the mass, energy, and angle of a projected object fired from an idealized cannon.

Key Steps

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    Students investigate the energy of a projectile. They use a simulation of a projectile fired from a cannon to study the law of conservation of energy.

    Students first explore the simulation, changing the blast energy, launch angle, and projectile mass to allow the projectile to “land” in the target box.

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    Next, students drag the projectile along its path, noting how potential and kinetic energy change. They identify the points of minimum and maximum kinetic and potential energy.

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    Students use data to confirm that the total mechanical energy of the system remains constant. They also examine a graph of kinetic energy vs. time, and compare it to their predictions.

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    Finally, students create a graph of potential energy vs. time, and compare it to their predictions.