The Energy Lair

Kinetic and potential energy can be found pretty much anywhere, including at (and in) all of your favorite sporting events!  Potential energy is energy that is built up and stored and just waiting to be used, like an excited thoroughbred waiting in the starting gate.  Kinetic energy is energy in motion, like the horse galloping on the track.  From the starting gate to the race track, the potential energy in the horse transfers to kinetic energy when it jumps out of the gate and starts running.  Another way to look at it is with a baseball player at bat.  he’s standing at home plate with the bat ready to swing (that’s potential energy) and then blammo!  The pitcher throws a wicked fastball towards the batter who is eyeing the ball and timing his swing...  Then woosh! he swings (that’s kinetic energy) and in a split second you hear Crack! (potential energy again!) and watch the ball flying (kinetic energy!) out of the park.  It’s a grand slam!  Four runners score and you’re favorite team just won the series in extra innings.  Wheee!

Seriously though, there’s a lot to learn about kinetic and potential energy (as well as energy transfer), so check out these links, start clickity-clicking and get your learning on!

About Kinetic & Potential Energy

EIA Energy Kids - Forms of Energy : The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s Energy Kids website does a pretty nice job of explaining some of the different types of potential and kinetic energies while giving you a basic rundown of what energy really is.

What is Energy? Two Main Forms of Energy : Wisconsin’s K-12 Energy Education Program (KEEP) has created a nice, to the point explanation of energy (both kinetic and potential).

Brain POP : Forms of Energy : Check out this Brain POP about the different forms of energy brought to us by McGraw-Hill.  Tim and his robot friend, Moby, will teach you all you need to know!

The Story of Kinetic & Potential Energy : This animated story will explain all about kinetic & Potential energy.  Huzzah!

Bill Nye the Science Guy on Energy : Who doesn’t love Bill Nye?  He goes over kinetic and potential energy without even flinching!  Brave (and smart!) man...

Energy & Motion Songs - Kinetic & Potential Energy : Here’s a song for you to hear, all about kinetic and potential energy, and written by Tom Glazer and Dottie Evans.  This catchy little tune will keep you singing all the live long day!

Potential Energy: Wile E. Coyote & Roadrunner : Oh, that crafty coyote...what’s he up to now?  Getting into a kinetic and potential energy mess, that’s what!  Here’s a fun compilation of some of Wile E.’s antics with energy explanations sprinkled in.

Eureka! Episode 9 - Kinetic Energy : This vintage Eureka! episode found on YouTube is all about kinetic energy.  It might remind you of Schoolhouse Rock!

Brain POP : Kinetic Energy : Tim and Moby will explore kinetic energy for you in this Brain POP episode.

Eureka! Episode 10 - Potential Energy : Much like the Eureka! episode about kinetic energy, this one explores potential energy.

Brain POP : Potential Energy : Discover potential energy with Tim and Moby in this short Brain POP video!

Technology and Invention . Kinetic Sculpture Challenge : A part of PBS KIDS GO!, DragonflyTV is a program hosted by kid scientists.  In this episode, watch the kids come up with a kinetic sculpture.  You could almost say it’s a Rube Goldberg...But it doesn’t complete a task, so instead it’s a kinetic domino effect sculpture.

Roller Coaster Animation : This animation from The Physics Classroom shows a simple roller coaster and its differences in kinetic and potential energy with the changes in height and speed along the coaster’s track.

Roller Coaster Physics : Straight from Kidz World, here’s an easy to read article about how roller coasters work by using gravitational potential and kinetic energy.

Matter and Motion . Roller Coaster Design : DragonflyTV strikes again!  This time, two young scientists are out and about looking for what elements of a roller coaster make it the best.  They’ll be checking out G-forces, which have a lot in common with potential and kinetic energy!

Interactive Learning

Coaster Creator : Straight from The JASON Project (of National Geographic) comes Coaster Creator!  Using your knowledge of kinetic and potential energy, see if you can create a fun, safe, and thrilling ride!

FETCH! . WHOAHlercoaster : On PBS KIDS GO! you can create a roller coaster for Ruff to ride, but make sure it’s safe and FUN!

Schools Science Clips - Forces in action : This interactive activity from BBC will have you observing and measuring forces.

KS3 Bitesize: Science - Energy transfer and storage : Here’s another BBC activity.  This one explores kinetic energy and energy transfer.

Energy Skate Park : Straight from PhET at the University of Colorado comes the Energy Skate Park!  Design a park and keep an eye on your skater to make sure that he’ll be able to continue having a skate-rific time by keeping his kinetic and potential energy in check.

DragonflyTV . Mechanical Madness | PBS KIDS GO! : A kinetic sculpture needs your help!  Put all the moving parts in the right place in order to get the ball rolling in this game found on PBS KIDS GO!’s DragonflyTV.

ZOOM . 3 Puck Chuck : Transfer the kinetic and potential energy from one puck to the next in order to get your green puck in the goal.  Check out how the energy transfers!  What happens to the energy when you slide over ice?  Or grease?  Or try to go through mud?

1”neck and neck” is common phrase at a horse race.  It means the race is very very close or that the leading horses are running at the same speed.  Any which one of them could win!

...And they’re off!  It’s Dexter & Blackie, neck and neck!1


athlete: the race horse

energy at the starting gate: Potential. The horse has all it’s energy stored and is just raring to go

Energy on the race track: Kinetic. The horse bursts from the gate and gallops down the track towards the finish line

Great potential...