Objectives:

  • To learn the different forms of energy
  • To identify where these different forms of energy arise from

Energy is the capacity for being able to do something and is defined as the ability of being able to exert a force on something. If you want to life up a book for example, energy is required. There are many different types of energy which are described below.

Most Kids Hate Learning GCSE Energy Names

This… I hope… is not true! But either way it is a good mnemonic for helping to learn all the different types of energy. Each of the letter highlighted in red stand for a certain type:

M – Magnetic energy

Magnetic energy is a store of energy due to the arrangement of the atoms inside the material. This arrangement creates a magnetic field around the magnet which can then repel or attract other magnets or magnetic materials.

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K – Kinetic energy

Kinetic energy is one of the more visual types and exists when objects are moving. Anything that has both a mass and a speed has kinetic energy.

H – Heat, but really called thermal energy

Things require energy to be heated up, we fortunately have a very large amount of energy stored in the sun some of which is released as thermal energy which keeps us warm and the seas from freezing.

L – Light energy

Light is a form of energy that comes from the sun and illuminates our world around us (during the day anyway). Many items release light energy and some you would perhaps be unaware of; light bulbs are an obvious one, but objects such as TV remotes, satellites or mobiles phones when making phone call also emit light energy. If you can find a way of absorbing this light energy you can utilise the energy to do something potentially useful.

G – Gravitational potential energy

Why does Earth pull us to the ground? Why when we jump do we fall back down? The reason is because as we jump we gain gravitational potential energy, which ultimately means we now have the ability to fall. So without anything supporting us when we ump we will inevitably fall back down. It is this principle that allows us to enjoy the likes of roller coasters in theme parks.

C – Chemical potential energy

Whenever we eat or drink we are giving our bodies fuel in the form of chemical potential energy. This energy is stored and used by the body when required. If you do not eat enough you end up feeling fatigued because you don’t have enough energy. If you east too much, this energy is stored in your body in the form of fat cells which is your body being smart and identifying that there is excess energy that is not required any time soon and so it stored is away for a later use. Batteries store energy in the form of chemical potential energy as well as plants and trees etc.

S – Sound energy

In order for us t communicate in the form of speech we release our chemical potential energy in the form of sound energy. This sound is transmitted from our vocal chords and through the air around us. This particular type of energy requires a medium (particles) to travel, so in space an astronaut cannot speak to another astronaut without clever electrical equipment (because space is a vacuum and has no particles). Computers can be tasked with playing music or videos, this is because they use their electrical energy and change it into sound energy.

E – Electrical energy

Electrical energy allows all electrical devices to work. It allows the tiny electrons to travel around a circuit and to instruct our mobile phones and laptops as to what to do. It is what allows us to power our light bulbs so that we can see at night, or to keep our food cold or frozen in the fridge – things we increasingly take for granted.

E – Elastic potential energy

When you stretch an elastic band, you have to apply energy. When you release this elastic band it releases this elastic potential energy. The fact that you can store energy in the band when it is stretched results in there being a store of energy – hence is being called elastic potential energy.

N – Nuclear potential energy

Nuclear energy is that which is stored in the nuclei of atoms. If you break some nuclei apart or fuse some of them together, there is a difference in mass which is then released in the form of energy. This is where Einsteins famous equation E = mc^{2} is then applied.