Your body turns the cereal you ate for breakfast into energy. This energy allows you to run and play or learn at school. The fuel in your parents’ car is burned, creating energy that makes the car run. Energy is all around us and is simply the ability to do work.
- The law of conservation of energy says that energy cannot be created or destroyed; only turned into a different kind of energy. For example, your breakfast cereal holds chemical energy (calories). When you eat it, it turns into kinetic energy (movement).
- There are many different kinds of energy: chemical energy, nuclear energy, kinetic energy, solar energy, electrical energy, and potential energy.
- Potential energy is stored energy waiting to be released. The pressure building up in a bottle of soda is potential energy; so is a spring.
- In physics, energy is measured in joules, abbreviated as J. There are other measurements of energy, such as calories or kilowatts.
- Energy can be either renewable or nonrenewable. Renewable energy includes wind, solar, and water power or the energy we get from food. We will always have more of these resources. Fossil fuels – used to fuel our cars and heat our homes were made over millions of years. Once they’re gone, they’re gone.
- Energy: the ability to do work
- Calorie: a measurement of the energy in food
- Joule: a measurement of energy in physics
Question and Answer
Question: Can energy from the sun be used to power our homes?
Answer: The energy from just one hour of sunlight could power the entire world for a year. Right now, we’re looking for new ways to use the Sun’s power.
Visit Rutgers University for a video on energy of motion.
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