Motion & Energy Vocabulary
● Motion - When an object's distance from reference point is changing.
● Reference Point - An object or location used for comparison to determine if an object is in motion.
● Distance - The amount of space between 2 objects or points.
● Speed - The distance ant travels in 1 unit of time. s=d/t or speed equals distance divided by time.
● Average Speed - The total distance/total time.
● Constant Speed - When an object travels at the same speed over an extended period of time.
● Velocity - The speed and direction of an object.
● Energy - The ability to do work or cause a change.
● Kinetic Energy - The energy of moving things.
● Potential Energy - Energy an object has due to an object’s position or condition.
● Elastic Potential Energy- Energy an object has that is stretched or compressed.
● Gravitational Potential Energy - Potential energy due to the height of an object and the force of gravity acting on the object.
● Mechanical Energy - The potential and kinetic energy of a moving object.
● Thermal Energy - The energy of the particles in a substance or material.
● Chemical Energy - The potential energy a substance has due to the chemical bonds that hold it together.
● Electrical Energy - Energy of moving electrons which creates electricity and currents.
● Electromagnetic Energy - The energy in light waves, microwaves, infrared radiation and
● Nuclear Energy - Potential energy stored in the nucleus of an atom. Caused by the forces
holding the parts of the atom together.
● Work - Moving an object over a distance.
MORE Motion & Energy Notes...
These give even more details :-)
I. Motion - An object is in motion when the distance between it and another object or point is changing.
A. Motion can only be judged by using a reference point or frame of reference.
1. Think about closing your eyes while riding in a car on a smooth highway -
it doesn’t feel like you are moving, but if you look out the window you can
2. We are in constant motion as the earth spins and revolves around the sun
- we move at around 800 miles per hour as Earth spins and 66,000 miles
per hour as Earth revolves around the Sun. But we don’t feel either of
these motions. Why?
B. A reference point is a location or object that you can use to determine if an object is moving.
1. If the distance between an object and a reference point is changing then
the object is in motion. Most reference points are stationary - NOT
C. Motion can be described in terms of its speed and its direction.
II. Speed - The amount of distance an object travels in 1 unit of time.
A. If you have measured the distance an object has travelled and how long it took it
to travel that distance you can calculate speed.
1. Formula for speed is speed = distance / time
2. Speed can NOT be measured - it has to be calculated.
3. The unit for speed is always a distance per time - miles per hour,
centimeters per minute, meters per second, etc..
B. Constant speed is when an object travels at the same speed over an extended
period of time.
C. Variable speed is when an object speeds up or slows down - changes speed.
D. Average speed is when you take the total distance travelled and divide it by the
total time - it ignores the changes in speed during a trip and just gets an average
for entire trip.
III. Velocity - An object’s speed and direction.
A. Velocity changes when the speed or direction or both change. Often describes
with compass directions example - going South at 60 miles per hour.
I. What is Energy?
A. Energy is defined as the ability to do work or cause a change.
1. Work is defined as moving a mass a certain distance - more mass
or more distance equals more work!
B. We use energy during every moment - energy is what allows us to move and our
heart to beat. Energy propels cars and runs our computers.
C. Two main categories of energy - Kinetic and Potential
D. Kinetic Energy
1. Kinetic energy is the energy of a moving object - the amount of kinetic
energy an object has depends on the speed of the object and the mass of
E. Potential Energy
1. Potential energy is energy an object has due to its position or its
2. Some object have energy because they are stretched out or
compressed like rubber bands or springs. Some objects have energy because of where
they are - a car at the top of a steep hill.
II. Forms of Energy - 8 forms of energy that we will learn - some are just potential or kinetic
but many are a combination of both categories.
A. Gravitational Potential Energy
1. Potential energy an object has because of the force of gravity acting
2. A bowling ball on the roof of a building has a lot of potential energy
because gravity is pulling it down - if I drop it onto a teeter-totter I could
make something fly up.
3. The amount of energy depends on the strength of gravity and the height
of the object from the source of gravity.
B. Elastic Potential Energy
1. Potential energy an object has because it is either stretched or
2. Common examples are rubber bands and springs.
C. Mechanical Energy
1. The energy in a moving object - a combination of potential and kinetic
2. As a person swings on a swing set their energy is constantly changing
back and forth between potential and kinetic. Except for when they are at the top or
bottom they have both types of energy.
D. Thermal Energy
1. The kinetic energy that the moving particles have in a substance.
2. The higher the temperature the faster the particles move and the higher
the thermal energy.
3. Temperature is how we measure the thermal energy.
4. Adding or subtracting thermal energy can cause a substance to
change state or phase.
E. Chemical Energy
1. The potential energy an object has due to the bonds that hold its
2. This is the energy in food and gasoline.
F. Electrical Energy
1. The kinetic energy of moving electrons that create electricity.
2. Electrical energy moves through wires to power our computers.
3. Naturally occurs in lightening.
G. Electromagnetic Energy
1. The energy in light waves, infrared and ultraviolet radiation.
2. Sunlight is electromagnetic energy and is the primary source of all
energy on Earth.
H. Nuclear Energy
1. The potential energy due to the bonds holding the parts of an atom
2. This is the energy used in a nuclear reactor or nuclear bomb.
a. In a reactor the release of the energy is controlled while in a
nuclear bomb the release is uncontrolled and almost instant.
I. Sound Energy
1. The kinetic energy that a sound wave produces in the stuff through
which it travels.
2. No sound in space because there is nothing for the sound to travel
3. Sounds are different underwater because the sound waves travel
differently in water than through air.