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Online Activity II.3.1 - Conversion from Potential to Kinetic Energy Lab

PDF Lab - onlineii_3_1 RTF Lab - onlineii_3_1
MPG4 Movie 13 Meg Flash Movie 1.7 Meg
Purpose: To show that potential energy can be converted to kinetic energy.

Air Table String
Spark Timer Carbon Paper
Pulley Paper

Notes on Apparatus: The pump pushes air through the rubber tubing into the air puck. The air moves through the air puck to the bottom moving underneath it. The pressure of the air between the glass table and the puck lifts the puck up - this reduces friction.

Inside of the air tube is a thin wire which transfers electricity to the puck. The spark timer releases electricity through the wire. A spark from the puck moves to the glass table. When there is carbon paper and paper between the puck and the air table the spark creates a dot on the paper. The spark timer can be set to produce a spark at a variety of time intervals.


  1. Watch the video.
  2. Print off the data sheet. | [disregard the + drawings on the sheet]

Observations and Data:

  1. The mass on the scale is 200g.
  2. The spark timer is set to 0.1 seconds.
  3. Calculate the potential energy at the start:
    • In all calculations use "m" as being equal to only the mass that is falling; "h" is measured from the length of the data sheet (first measurable dot to the last measurable dot)
    • "g" is calculated from the data sheet - calculate the velocity of the object at the start of the data sheet (VA) and at the end (VB). Hint: You can measure the distance the object travells and you know the time between each dot.
  4. Calculate the kinetic energy at the end Hint: v is actually VB
  5. Calculate the percent difference


  1. State the percent difference between Ek and Ep and provide reasons to support the difference.
  2. What law was proved in this lab, and what does it state.
  3. State any applications of the lab.

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