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### Course: Middle school physics>Unit 3

Lesson 2: Potential energy

# Potential energy

Review your understanding of potential energy in this free article aligned to NGSS standards.

## Key points:

• Potential energy is energy that has the potential to become another form of energy. An object’s potential energy depends on its physical properties and position in a system.
• Potential energy comes in many forms, such as:
• Gravitational potential energy due to an object’s mass and position in a gravitational field
• Magnetic potential energy due to a magnetic object’s position in a magnetic field
• Electric potential energy due to the size of an electric charge and its position in an electric field
• Elastic potential energy of a spring or rubber band that is stretched
• Changing an object’s position can change its potential energy. This depends on the forces between objects.
• For example, if two objects attract each other, moving them apart will increase their potential energies. If two objects repel each other, moving them apart will decrease their potential energies.

## Want to join the conversation?

• dose the mass of the object mater
• yes, so say there are two cars going the same speed, one is heavier than the other, you might think they have the same kinetic energy. But the larger car has more than the other because it has more mass. Just because mass doesn't matter as much, doesn't mean it doesn't matter at all.🙃
• What is the most common potential energy we use every day.
• We mainly use gravitational potential energy every day.
• Wait, so when two positively charged objects get further away from each other, shouldn't their potential energy increase? After all, when they're further apart, you could move them closer, and make the electric energy stronger (because they're repelling each other more strongly as they get closer). So since the potential for the electric energy to increase increases (since the maximum would be when the objects are actually touching), shouldn't potential energy increase?
• Potential energy is just the potential of kinetic energy in a given force. When two positively charged objects get further away from each other, the potential energy does not increase because the potential of the kinetic energy is not at its highest. In an electrical force, the potential of kinetic energy is highest when two objects are moving opposite the force direction. In other words, the potential kinetic charge will be highest when the two objects approach each other of equal net-charge. In gravitational force, it's a little different because the potential of the kinetic energy is highest when the objects are further away from each other. For example, when an apple falls from a very tall tree, the potential energy will be greater than if the apple falls from a small tree. Potential energy increases when an object (anything matter) moves opposite a force's pull.
• Excuse me Talia but, where did u see the V exactly in the text?
• V stands for VELOCITY
• what is the potential energy equation ?
• potential energy(P.E)
P.E=mgh
m=mass
g=gravitational acceleration
h=height
• If there is a cat on a roof, is potential energy = 0?
• Potential energy is equal to zero only if it is on the surface of the Earth. This means that no other object exerts a force on it to counteract gravity and have an altitude of more than zero metres, like the roof.
• Would an apple on the ground have potential energy? It can be moved, but it can't be moved by itself. Does potential energy have to occur within the object's own properties or can another force use it?
• Yeah, I think so. I think the potential energy would be something pulling the apple towards it or vise versa.