Authors

Pod(s)

Energy

Abstract

There are two ways to study the dynamics of a system in which there is motion. One of these is to study the kinematics of the system to see if there is any acceleration. If there is an acceleration, then this implies that there is a net force on some part of the system. If there is no acceleration, then this means that either there are no forces on the system, or that the forces within the system are all balanced. The other way to study the system is from an energy standpoint. Energy can flow from potential to kinetic, or vice versa. Furthermore, energy can be exchanged between different parts of the system. If any object is giving energy to any other part of the system, then it must lose energy, either from its potential or kinetic energy. Each view has its advantages and disadvantages. The energy view is nice mathematically, in that one is dealing with scalar quantities that are easy to handle. However, studying the energy does not really allow one to predict the direction of motion, only the magnitude. Studying the forces on the objects does allow this, but the mathematics involved in solving the motion is a little more complicated, in that one must use vectors. In this particular activity, we are going study a system using the force approach, while the next activity in this module will use the energy approach.