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Kinetic and Potential Energy

Investigation 2 – PreLab









Your body generates a lot of kinetic energy when you move that goes untapped. Materials science engineers are researching ways to convert that kinetic energy into electricity. They hope to design devices that will harvest enough energy to charge your cell phone, GPS devices, headlamps, and other equipment. 



This Investigation is designed to help you to answer the following Focus Questions:

  • Can one form of energy be converted to another? Support your answer with data from the experiments. 
  • How does converting energy from one form to another relate to the conservation of energy? 

Note: These questions are located in your  SDR at the beginning and end of the Investigation.


As a class, read the Background(s) in the Investigation. When finished, discuss the following concepts as a class:

  • The watt (W) is a unit of power.
  • Electric power is the rate at which electrical potential energy is converted into other forms of energy.
  • The Law of Conservation of Energy says that energy can never be created or destroyed, only converted (changed) from one form to another.


The following is a Key Term that is introduced in the Investigation Background(s). It should be used, as appropriate, by teachers and students during everyday classroom discourse.

  • electrical potential energy

Note: Definition of this term can also be found on the Introduction page to the CELL.

Note: Additional words may be bolded within the Background(s). These words are not Key Terms and are strictly emphasized for exposure at this time.


  • Complete the Recall section in your SDR. 
    • When you turn on a light switch, you get light energy. Where does that energy come from? Is it converted from another form of energy?
    • Is light energy a form of kinetic energy or potential energy?
  • Play the video below. Remember to follow along with your SDR and make any notes that you think might be helpful in the lab.
  • After the video, divide into lab groups to discuss strategy for the lab. For example, you may assign certain group members to perform specific functions during the lab.

Note: The purpose of the video is to allow you to anticipate the laboratory experience you will soon encounter. You should leave this PreLab session with a firm idea of what to expect and how to perform in the lab.

Note: Homework is posted below the video.


You should review the Investigation and video in preparation for the Lab.