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Investigating Force and Energy

Introduction
All life depends upon energy which allows us to move and interact with our environment. Formally energy is
defined as the ability or capacity to do work. Most of the energy on the earth comes from the sun. The sun's rays are
needed so that plants can make food. Animals and human beings use the energy found in food to operate their bodies and
muscles. The sun's energy is also stored in coal, wood, and oil, which are burnt to do work.
All energy originates from four fundamental forces: strong nuclear forces, weak nuclear forces, gravitational forces,
and electromagnetic forces. We find that these fundamental forces act to produce common forms of energy in our
environment. These forms include: thermal, light, sound, mechanical, electrical, chemical, and nuclear.
People often confuse energy, force, work, and power. Force is a push or a pull on an object. Energy is the ability to
do work. Work and energy are measured in the same units. The amount of work is determined by the strength of the force
used to move an object and the distance the object moves. Power measures the rate at which work is done.
In this activity we will explore the various ways energy is transferred to an object that result in changing its motion.
This motion will be observed as a”race” between two marbles. The winner of the race did so because of possessing more
energy. Was greater energy transferred to the winning marble due to its mass, starting height, or diameter? In the
following activities we will answer these questions.
Objectives for this Unit
1. Given the following list of terms, identify each term's correct definition.
Conversely, given definitions identify their correct terms. Acceleration,
force, kinetic energy, mass, potential energy, kinetic energy
2. Identify or describe the four fundamental forces and the forms of energy
they produce.
3. Given the formula for Newton’s second law, f = m X a, describe how
acceleration depends upon the relationship between mass of the object and
the force applied
4. Identify or describe the two types of energy and given the formula for
potential energy P.E. = m x g x h, explain the formula.
5. Identify the affect of position/height on the energy of an object
6. Identify the affect of mass on the energy of an object
Materials
Inclined plane, ramp, Meter stick, Newton scale, Various Marbles:
Diameter (cm) Mass (g)
Mass (kg)
Description
1- 2.54
12.5
0.0125
Rubber Ball
1- 2.54
66.8
0.0668
Steel Ball
2 - 2.54
20.0
0.0200
Yellow Glass
2 - 1.50
0.51
0.0051
Blue Glass
Types of Energy
The various forms of energy can be exhibited as two types, potential and kinetic energy. Potential is the amount of
stored energy and kinetic is the dynamic or energy due to the motion of the object.
Potential energy is the energy stored by an object as a result of its position or the position of its parts. A rock on a
table, a bowl of cereal, a stick of dynamite, and a tank of gasoline are all examples of objects that have energy stored in
atoms or molecules. The rock has potential energy because of its height that can be released and converted to kinetic
energy and heat, if it is dropped.
Potential Energy = mass
Where:
P.E. =
m=
g=
h=

x

acceleration of gravity x height

or P.E. = m x g x h

potential energy is equal to force (force = mass x acceleration) multiplied by distance. The result is a
unit of measurement labeled newton-meters. 1 newton-meter is a unit called a joule.
the mass of the object being considered
The acceleration of gravity on planet Earth, 9.8 meters / second 2. (i.e. an object that is dropped will
accelerate at a rate of 9.8 m/sec2)
height in meters that the object falls.
Investigating Force and Energy ©2009

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. “m” is mass measured in kilograms. The purpose of the inclined planes is to supply that force for our racers. 5. The following is a statement of this relationship. (see chart) 3. Place a piece of tape for a finish line 50. . The forces for each racer based upon their position on the ramp will be found in table 1.meters / sec 2 is a unit of measurement called a newton. . . . . .E. . The result is a unit of measurement labeled newton-meters. We could measure the force applied to the racers with a newton scale by simply attaching the scale to our racers while they are on the ramp. . Kinetic Energy = ½ mass x velocity2 or K. from the start line. Select two marbles with the same mass and diameter and place them on the starting point at the top of the ramps. = the energy that a body possesses as a result of its mass and velocity. v = the velocity measured in meters per second. Place a piece of tape for the “start” line and lineup the end/bottom of the ramps with the “start line”. A change in movement or velocity of the object is referred to as acceleration. . . Release them at the same instant and observe the outcome of the “race”. 1 newton-meter is a unit called a joule. As Newton described in his second law the amount of acceleration depends upon the relationship between mass of the object and the force applied to the object.00-cm 50. m = the mass of the object moved and would be measured in Kilograms. . The strength of a force is measured in newtons and is described by Newton’s second law f = m x a where “f” is force. . m = the mass of the object moved (measured in Kilograms). 6. = ½ m x v2 Where: K. a falling rock. How does the force change due to a change in the mass? 2. .E. . To be declared the winner a marble must win by at least the diameter of the marble. . Select another two marbles with the same mass and diameter and repeat the race. . 4. Look at these forces carefully and answer the following question. . Force and Energy Activities In the following activities two objects will race each other down an inclined plane. . 2. some form of energy was transferred imparting a force to the object causing the movement. Our investigations are to discover what characteristics can be used to determine the winner of the race. .0-cm. a = the acceleration of the object that moved and is an indication of a change in velocity over a period of time. (Predict the future) 25. It must be a “clear” winner or we will declare a tie. . . 1. . but the same height. . . Investigating Force and Energy ©2009 Page 2 . .00-cm Finish Line Section 1: Measuring the Force When an object moves. a bullet shot from a gun or a flow of electrons are all examples of kinetic energy.5 newton is approximately 1 pound).Kinetic energy is the dynamic energy that matter has because of its motion and mass. . . . A push or a pull is considered a force. Moving cars. What does the amount of force depend? Section 2: Which One “Wins”? In the following activities you will race two marbles to determine which crosses the finish line first. Adjust the ramps to any height. . . force = mass Where: f = X acceleration or f=m X a The force (a push or a pull) that tends to produce an acceleration of some mass in the direction of its application measured in Kg . Complete the statement: When two marbles that are the same “race” . (Note: 4. We could also calculate the force based upon the mass of the racers and their placement on the ramp. and “a” is the acceleration due to gravity. Acceleration (measured in meters / second2). 1.

E. Newtons P. 6.0051 0. 3. Select marbles mass 1 (mass as indicated in the table). 3. Repeat the above procedure for each of the other heights indicated in the table. Adjust the ramps to the height indicated in the table for position 1. P.0668 Force P.0120 Mass 3 0.0051 Mass 2 0. If energy is the “ability to do work” does the change in mass affect energy? (Explain fully) Instructors Note: We have learned how the factors of height.0051 0. Does the change in mass effect speed of the marble to cross the finish line? Why? 8. = m x g x h P A Joules 7. Record the actual winner (A). Place the marbles on the ramps then release them at the same instant and observe the outcome of the “race”.0051 0. 2.09 Force Newtons P. Repeat the above procedure for each of the other masses indicated in the table.E. = m x g x h Joules Height meters Position 1 0. Ramp A Mass (Kilogram) Winning Ramp Ramp B Force P. Obtain the force for the marbles from table 1 and record. Investigating Force and Energy ©2009 Page 3 .Section 3: Changing the Height of the Racer In this activity we will keep the release position and the mass of the marble constant while varying the height.E. 5.0-g or . Repeat three times to verify the results.06-m height.0051 0. 5. 2. If energy is the “ability to do work” does the change in height affect energy? (Explain fully) Section 4: Changing the Mass of the Racer In this activity we will keep the release position and the height of the marble constant while varying the mass . mass. Repeat three times to verify the results. Place one marbles on the ramp A one marbles on the ramp B and then release them at the same instant and observe the outcome of the “race”. Record the actual winner (A). 4. 6. Does the change in height effect speed of the marble to cross the finish line? Why? 8.0200 Mass 4 0. Predict (P) the winning ramp for each race. In the above activities our racecourse was 50. Obtain the force for the marbles from table 1 and record.03 0. Ramp A Height meters Force Newtons Winning Ramp Ramp B P. Place the ramps on the floor and repeat the previous experiments this time allowing the racers to “run” as far as they can. This will “use up” (convert to motion) all the energy and we will observe which one went the farthest or had the most energy. which works well for desktops but does not let us “see” all the energy in the racers.06 Position 3 0.E. There is one activity that will help clarify the relationship. Place the two ramps at the 0. 4. Newtons P. and force interact. = m x g x h Joules Mass (Kilogram) Mass 1 0.02-Kg) and diameter.03 0.E.E.03 Position 2 0. Select two large marbles with the same mass (20.E. 1.E. You will leave them at this height for the entire experiment. Calculate the Potential Energy for each race. 1.03 0. = m x g x h Joules P A 7. Predict (P) the winning ramp for each race. Calculate the Potential Energy for each race.00-cm. P.

Repeat the above procedure for each of the other heights indicated in the table. 3. Obtain the force for the marble from table 1 and record.E. 5. (w = f x d) 1. Calculate work done using w = f x d. = m x g x h Needed to move (Joule) (Newton) Distance (Meter) Work w=f x d (joule) 7. Where: f = force in newtons.09-m Barrier Potential Energy Force P.Energy and Work Activities Work is defined as the expenditure of energy that occurs when a force is used to move an object through a given distance. how? 8. Calculate the potential energy of the marble using P. We will place a barrier at the end of the ramp which we will know the force needed to move it. If energy is the “ability to do work” does the change in height affect energy? (Explain fully) 9. 4.5-cm Height Mass (meters) (Kilogram) Position 1 0. Where: m = mass in kilograms g = force of gravity 9. Place the marble on the ramp. Place the ramp on the grid. Does the change in height affect the potential energy? If it does. d = distance barrier moved measured in meters. A quantitative measure of work is determined by the product of the force acting and the distance moved in the direction the force acts: work = force x distance or w = f x d Section 5: The Affect of Height on Energy and Work In this activity we will use only one ramp and keep the release position. Mark the zero point of the barrier and measure how far the barrier moves. 2. Select one 0. Repeat three times to verify the results.06-m Position 3 0. Adjust the ramp to the height indicated in the table.03-m Position 2 0. “Marble”/Object 1. then release it and measure the distance the barrier was moved using the grid provided. Based upon our previous experiments we learned which condition produced the most energy and therefore which condition should result in the barrier being moved the farthest. top of ramp.E. We can measure this distance and with the force needed to move the barrier we can calculate the work done by moving the barrier.0051 kg marble. Why isn’t work equal to potential energy? Investigating Force and Energy ©2009 Page 4 . = m x g x h.8 m/sec2 h = height object dropped (marble) in meters 6. and the mass of the marble constant while varying the height.

5. = m x g x h Needed to move (joule) (newton) Distance (meter) Work w=f x (joule) 12 d 11 10 09 08 7. Why isn’t work equal to potential energy? 07 06 05 04 03 02 01 Start Investigating Force and Energy ©2009 Page 5 .E. Adjust the ramp to the height indicated in the table. Based upon our previous experiments we learned which condition produced the most energy and therefore which condition should result in the barrier being moved the farthest.Section 6: The Affect of Mass Energy and on Work In this activity we will use only one ramp and keep the release position. Does the change in mass affect the potential energy? If it does. and the height of the marble constant while varying the mass. Calculate the potential energy of the marble using P. 3. Repeat the above procedure for each of the other masses indicated in the table. how? 8. then release it and measure the distance the barrier was moved using the grid provided.03 17 16 15 14 13 Barrier Potential Energy Force P. 6. top of ramp. Obtain the force for the marbles from table 1 and record. Calculate work done using w = f x d. Repeat three times to verify the results. Select one marble (mass 1).E.03 Mass 2 0. If energy is the “ability to do work” does the change in mass affect energy? (Explain fully) 9.03 Mass 3 0. (w = f x d) 19 18 1. = m x g x h. We will place a barrier at the end of the ramp which we will know the force needed to move it. 4. 2. Place the marble on the ramp. We can measure this distance and with the force needed to move the barrier we can calculate the work done by moving the barrier. “Marble”/Object Height Mass (meters) (Kilogram) Mass 1 0.

8 m/sec2) and m is the mass in kilograms Investigating Force and Energy ©2009 Page 6 .16 0.0051 0.00-cm F11 h α Wt α F_l_ sin α = h / 25.0200 0.19 Yellow Glass-B 2.07 0.25.02 0.54 0.006 0.00-cm Vertical Steel 2.0122 0.50 0.-.06 0.-- Suggest We Remove To convert grams to newtons: 1.0125 0.0184 0.0185 0.08 0.03 0.0200 0. Change grams to Kilograms 2.54 0.0668 0.54 0.04 0.50 0.54 0.54 0.05 0.02 0.06 0.05 0.18 Yellow Glass-B 2.04 0.-.1225 Blue Glass 1.0184 0.045 0.02 0.66 Yellow Glass 2.0185 0.07 0.00-cm 6.0499 Blue Glass 1.0499 Description -. Calculate newtons f = m x a Where “a” is acceleration due to the force of gravity (9.54 0.0122 0.02 0.19 Yellow Glass 2.00 F11 = Wt x sin α F11 Table 1 – Physical Properties of “Marbles” Physical Properties Calculated Force in Newtons Due to Angle Diameter (cm) Mass (kilogram) 3.24 0.006 0.18 Rubber Ball 2.00-cm 9.0051 0.015 0.