Potential and kinetic energy

Potential and kinetic energy

I can describe potential and kinetic energy and distinguish between them.

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Potential and kinetic energy

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Students will review what energy is and learn the two different types of energy (potential and kinetic). They will identify each of these types of energy and objects that have great potential energy as well as objects that have great kinetic energy. Throughout the lesson, students will distinguish different scenarios as examples of potential or kinetic energy as well as do a sort and fill in the blank with the correct type of energy. In the end, students design their own roller coaster!



Learning Objective

Students will be able to differentiate between potential and kinetic energy and explain that energy can change from one form into another.


Students discuss several questions about energy with a partner including, “What is energy?” and “How do we get energy?” Check students’ prior knowledge. Introduce potential and kinetic energy and explain that everything uses energy. Review what energy is and share some facts about energy.


Define potential energy and provide examples. Do the same for kinetic energy. Explain how some objects can have more potential energy than others. Have students decide which object pictured would have the most potential energy. After this, show students some pictures and have them decide which part of the picture shows kinetic energy and which part shows potential energy. Click on the covers to reveal the answers. Next, drag the statements to check which type of energy is being described. Finally, students will fill in the blanks with the correct type of energy.


Students respond to ten multiple-choice and true/false questions.


Students will design their own roller coasters. Their roller coaster must have at least 2 hills and 2 carts showing potential energy. They should also have two carts showing kinetic energy.

Instruction materials

Students will need the following items for the closing activity:
Construction paper

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