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Experiment 7: Work, Power and Energy

Pocholo Luis P. Mendiola

Department of Mathematics and Physics
College of Science, University of Santo Tomas
Espaa, Manila Philippines

The experiment employed basic
principles of work, power and energy which
include the change of both the kinetic and
potential energy of a body under the
influence of gravity, the conservation of
mechanical energy, and the work of a body
running against the time paramenter, also
known as the power P. The conservation of
mechanical energy was verified through a
graphical anaylsis of the object under free
fall. In addition, simple demonstration of the
power output by the use of staircase was
also employed in the experiment.
1. Introduction
Nowadays, energy conservation is
undoubtly the single most important idea in
physics. Strangely enough, although the
basic idea of energy conservation was
familiar to scientists from the time of
Newton onwards, this crucial concept only
moved to the centre-stage of physics in
about 1850 when scientists realized that heat
was a form of energy [4].
Energy can take many different
forms: potential, kinetic, thermal, chemical,
electrical, nuclear, etc. In fact, everything
that we observe aroud us represents one of
the numerous manifestations of energy.
However, all these processes leave the total
amount of energy in the Universe invariant;
that is, the total energy of a system is

unchanged regardless of any transformation
or even rotation of the coordinate systems.
In other words, whenever, and however,
energy is transformed from one form into
another, it is always conserved. For a closed
system; (i.e., a system which does not
exchange energy with the rest of the
Universe,) implies that the total energy of
the system in question must remain constant
in time.
Work, on one hand, as used in
physics has a narrower meaning than it does
in everyday life. First, it only refers to
physical work, of course, and second,
something has to be accomplished.
Technically, work is done when a force
pushes something and the object moves
some distance in the direction its being
pushed or pulled. The quantitative idea of
how much work is done is usually expressed
in units to measure it. In addition, the rate at
of work done also known as the power, is
commonly used particularly in electricity
bill which usually expressed in terms of
kilowatt-hours or kWh.
The objectives of the experiment are
to demonstrate the conservation of
mechanical energy, to measure the change in
kinetic and potential energies as ball moves
in free fall, and to determine the power
output when going up and down the

2. Theory
In physics, work is defined as the dot
(scalar) product of force F and displacement
s, that is,
[eq. 2.0]
where is the angle between the applied
force F and the displacement s
The force and displacement vectors
are multiplied together in such a way that
the product yields a scalar. Thus, work is not
a vector, and has no direction associated
with it. Since work is the product of force
and displacement, it has units of newton-
meters, or joules (J). A joule is the work
done by applying force on one newton
through a displacement of one meter [2].
Mathematically, no work is done if
the force F and the displacement s are
perpendicular to each other. This is because
the angle between these two vectors is 90
Since cos(90
) = 0, the resulting value for
work would be 0.
Work is a measure of effort
expended by a force moving an object from
one point to another point [a]. If the force
varies then the total amount of work done is
determined by a definite integral

[eq. 2.1]

It is also interesting to note that work
is not a measure of how tired you are after
perform the work. It is a measure of the
product of the force that was applied in the
direction of the displacement. Work is also a
measure of the energy that was transferred
while the force was being applied.
Work can be done slowly or quickly,
but the time taken to perform the work
doesnt affect the amount of work which is
done since there is no element of time
associated with it. However, if you do the
work quickly, you are operating at a higher
power even that if you do the work slowly.
Power is defined as the rate at which the
work is done or the rate of energy transfer.
The equation for power is

[eq. 2.2]
where P = Power, = work done, v =
When a quantity of work is done
during a time interval , the average work
done per unit time or average power P
defined to be

[eq. 2.4]
The rate at which work is done might
not be constant. Redefining, the
instantaneous power P as the quotient in [eq.
2.4 ]. As approaches zero

[eq. 2.5]
The SI unit of power is watt (W),
named for the English inventor James Watt.
One watt equals 1 joule per second: 1 J = 1

J/s. The kilowatt (1 kW = 10
W) and the
megawatt (1 MW = 10
W) are also
commonly used. In the British system, worlo
is expressed in foot-pounds, and the unit of
power is the foot-pound per second [3]. A
larger unit called the horsepower (hp) is also
1 hp = 746 W = 0.746 kW
The watt is a familiar unit of
electrical power. The kilowatt-hour (kWh) is
the usual commercial unit of electrical
energy. One kilowatt-hour is the total work
done in 1 hour (3600 seconds) when the
power is 1 kilowatt (10
In Classical Mechanics, power can
also be expressed in terms of force and
velocity [3]. Suppose that a force F on a
body while it undergoes a vector
displacement . If the F
is the component
of F tangent to the path (parallel to ), then
the work done by the force is = F

The average power is

[eq. 2.6]
Instantaneous power P is the limit of the
above expression as :

[eq. 2.7]
Where v is the magnitude of the
instantaneous velocity. It can also be
expressed in terms of the dot (scalar)
[eq. 2.8]
Energy is the ability to do work, and
when work is done, there is always a
transfer of energy. Energy can take on many
forms, such as potential energy, kinetic
energy, and heat energy. The unit for energy
is the same as the unit for work, the joule
(J). This is because the amount of work done
on a system is exactly equal to the change in
energy of the system. This is called the
work-energy theorem.
Potential Energy
Potential energy is the energy a
system has because of its position or
configuration [4]. For instance, stretching a
rubber band means you store energy in the
rubber band as elastic potential energy.
Potential energy generally has two
forms. On one hand, it is the gravitational
potential energy U
. It is defined as the
product of the bodys weight (mg) and its
height (y) above the ground
= mgy [eq. 2.9]
This type of potential energy is
associated with the bodys weight and its
height above the ground. On the other hand,
there is the elastic potential energy U
Elastic potential energy arises when there
are situations in which the potential energy
is not gravitational in nature. It is defined as
half of the product of the force constant of
the spring k and the square of its
displacement x

[eq. 2.10]

Mathematically, the potential energy
is a path-independent or conservative
physical quantity. For instance, consider a
body moving in a conservative force-field
f(r), Picking some point O arbitrarily in the
field, we can define a function U(r) which
possesses a unique value at every point in
the field [4]. The value of this function is
associated with some general point R is

[eq. 2.11]

In other words, U(R) is just the
energy transferred to the field (i.e., minus
the work done by the field) when the body
moves from point O to point R. The value of
U at point O is zero: i.e., U(O) = 0. The
above definition uniquely specifies U(R),
since the work done when a body moves
between two points in a conservative force-
field is independent of the path taken
between these points [4].
Kinetic Energy
The kinetic energy (KE) is an energy
of an object has because it is moving. The
KE of a moving object depends on its mass
m and the square of its velocity v

[eq. 2.12]
But in order for a mass to gain KE,
work must be done on the mass to push it up
to a certain speed or to slow it down. The
work-energy theorem states that the change
in KE of an object is exactly equal to the
work done on it [2], assuming there is no
change in the objects potential energy.

Fig. 2.0 The derivation of the Work-Energy Theorem
(Photo credit:

Conservation of Mechanical Energy
When work is done on a system, the
energy of that system changes from one
form to another, but the total amount of
energy remains the same. The total energy
therefore can be said that is is conserved,
that is, remains constant during any process.
This is also called the law of conservation of
energy. For a closed system, (i.e., a system
which does not exchange energy with the
rest of the Universe), implies that the total
energy of the system in question must
remain constant in time [4].
The kinetic energy (KE) represents
energy the mass possesses by virtue of its
motion. Likewise, potential energy (U)
represents energy the mass possesses by
virtue of its position. The total energy E of
the system therefore can be written
ME = KE + U = constant [eq. 2.13]
In other words, the increase in the
KE of the body, as it moves from some point
to another point, is equal to the decrease in
the U evaluated between these same two

It is clear that E is a conserved
quantity. Although the KE and U of the
object varies, its total energy remains the
The principle of conservation of
mechanical energy also states that energy of
an isolated system can be neither created nor
destroyed but can be transformed to other
forms of energy [2]. In other words, the
following must hold:
= ME
[eq. 2.14]
3. Methodology
In the experiment, two activities
were performed. One of which is the power
output which first requires the determination
of work by each member when going up and
down the staircase. Secondly, the
demonstration of the conservation of
mechanical energy of the tossed ball by the
use of the motion detector computer
software Vernier Logger Pro

Activity 1: Power
Initially, the weight of each member
was determined. This will generally serves
to be the force F that will be used for the
calculation of the work done.
Each member of the group was asked
to go up and down the staircase of the Main
Building and recorded the time for each.
Afterwards, the vertical distance h of the
staircase was determined using a meter stick
by summing up the height of each of the
successive risers:
= h
+ h
+ ... + h
[eq. 3.0]
After obtaining all the relevant data,
the power output P of each member was
calculated by multiplying the force F and
the displacement s (in this case, h
= s)
and dividing it overall by the time taken to
go up and down the staircase. In addition,
the most powerful member of the group
was determined by the largest numerical
value of the calculated power output.
Activity 2: Energy a Tossed Ball
The graphical curves were predicted
and sketched of potetential energy versus
time, kinetic energy versus time, and the
combination of the two the total
mechanical energy versus time of a ball
thrown vertically upward from a height of
50.0 cm. In able to compare the predicted
graphs, the motion detector computer
software Vernier Logger Pro
with the file
16 Energy of a Tossed Ball was used. The
ball was tossed straight upwards while
holding it 50.0 cm above the motion detector
until it began to collect data.
4. Results and Discussion
Activity 1
Vertical distance between second
floor and third floor = 2.513 m
Table 1. The work done and power
output of Each Member of the group in
going up and down the staircase.
Member 1 2 3
Weight (N) 588 N 401.8 N 519.4 N
Work in going
up (J)
Time to go up
5.6 s 29.1 s 5.6 s
Power output
in going up(W)
34.70 W 233.08

Work in going
down (J)
Time to go
down (s)
5.5 s 9.9 s 7.8 s
Power output
in going down




From Table 1, the work and power
output changes per member. Ideally, the
power to go down shoud be lesser than to go
up because of safety issues. However, one
gathered data shows that going down
requires less power. This is because of the
pull of gravity. The gravitational pull g
naturally acts downward hence, it is easier to
follow its direction than to oppose it.
Activity 2
a. Fig. 4.0 Graph of potential energy
vs. time

b. Fig. 4.1 Graph of kinetic energy vs.

c. Fig. 4.2 Graph of total mechanical
energy vs. time

d. Fig. 4.3 Total mechanical energy
plot by the use of Vernier Logger

From the graphs provided above, the
theoretical curve plots are a., b., c. With the
use of the motion detector computer
software Vernier Logger Pro
, the curve
from the first second of d. is somewhat
similar. Although the curve seems to be
messy between the time 1s and 2s. This is
because there are several contributing
factors that affect the entirety of the graph.
For instance, the ball may not fall straigthly
downward as it was tossed straightly

5. Conclusion
Work done is directly proportional to
the applied force in the direction of the
displacement. Since work done is equivalent
to the product of force and displacement, we
can readily conclude that as the work done is
increasing given the displacement constant,
the force is also increasing. In addition,
since the power output is equivalent to the
work done over the time taken to do that,
given a constant time, it can be said that the
power expended is directly proportional to
the work done. Also, for the energy, it is
really neither created nor destroyed. From
the graphs provided, the relationship
between the kinetic and potential energies
are opposite; that is, its either lose or gain.
Although they vary when the object moves,
their sum is still the same (as stated in the
conservation of mechanical energy)
regardless of any situations (assuming it is
in a closed system).

6. Applications

1. Compare the work that you do when
you go upstairs to the work you do in
going downstairs. Based on this, can
you explain why it is more difficult to
go upstairs than downstairs?

Usually, the work done is the
same because the weight is invariant
in a particular location. Furthermore,
it is more difficult to go upstairs
because you are opposing the natural
direction of gravity which is acted
downwards (g = 9.8 m/s

2. A certain professor finds it easy to
go upstairs from the ground floor to
the third floor of the main Building
by going up the second floor using
the main stairs, walking along the
corridor of the accounting division
and using the side stairs to go to the
third floor. Is there a basis to this
from the point of view of physics?
Yes, and it is because of the
steepiness of the stairs. It is much
difficult to use a stair with more
inclination as you tend to be more
careful to avoid any accident/s which
results to a greater effort and longer

3. It is 5 minutes before your 7:00 am
class in the fourth floor and you are
still in the ground floor. Will you run
or walk upstairs in order not to be
late? Assume that your power output
is 15 watts and 20 watts when
walking and running, respectively.
The vertical distance between the
ground floor and the fourth floor is
12 m and that you weigh 750N.

I would rather run because
the resulting time will only be 450s
or about 7.5 minutes only than
walking which will be 600s or about
10 min.

4. An object is thrown vertically up.
Neglecting air resistance, how is the
change in the potential energy of the

object related the change in its
kinetic energy?
As the object is thrown up, it
is slowing down. As a result, the
kinetic energy decreases. Moreover,
when the object slows down due to
the force of gravity pushing down on
it. Hence, the gravitational potential
energy increases. For upward to
downward, it is lose of KE gain of

7. References
[1] Stewart, J. (2003). Early
Transcendentals Single Variable Calculus.
Canada, CA: Thomson Learning.
[2] Zeitlin, J. (2003). SAT II: Physics.
Canada, CA: Kaplan Publishing.
[3] Ford, A., Freedman, R., Young, H.
(2012). Sears and Zemanskys University
Physics with Modern Physics. New York,
NY: Pearson Learning.
[4] Fitzpatrick, R. (n.d.). Classical
Mechanics. Retrieved online from