### Study energy conservation by looking at the relationship between

```Physics 2015 – Mechanical Energy Conservation
Minilab 6
Mechanical Energy
Conservation
Department of Physics & Astronomy
Page 1
Physics 2015 – Mechanical Energy Conservation
Study energy conservation by looking at the
relationship between three different types
of energy:
• Gravitational Potential Energy (GPE)
• Elastic Potential Energy (EPE)
• Kinetic Energy (KE)
PURPOSE
Department of Physics & Astronomy
Page 2
Physics 2015 – Mechanical Energy Conservation
Energy is conserved if we can add up all of
the different types of energy acting in a
closed system and see that the total sum is
constant.
• A “closed system” is one where no energy is
added to or taken away from the system (in
our case, a system with negligible friction)
• The types of energy will change depending
on the setup. Ours were listed on the
previous slide.
THEORY
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Page 3
Physics 2015 – Mechanical Energy Conservation
Different Energy Types
• Gravitational Potential Energy (GPE) – the energy
due to gravity
=
• Elastic Potential Energy (EPE) – the energy in a
spring, where k = spring constant

=

• Kinetic Energy (KE) – the energy due to motion

=

• Heat Energy (such as friction, sound, etc.)
THEORY
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Page 4
Physics 2015 – Mechanical Energy Conservation
photogate
Note as the cart is released, the quantity
GPE + EPE + KE should stay the same. We
will be able to measure all three at any two
different points of the cart’s travel.
EQUIPMENT
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Page 5
Physics 2015 – Mechanical Energy Conservation
Activity 1 – Find the Spring Constant (k)
• We will find this constant using Hooke’s Law:
= −
• In the setup on the last page, attach a few masses
to the string hanging off the table, and measure
how the spring stretches from its rest length.
• You can then plot your data in Excel, and use a
linear regression, where the slope = -k.
mg
PROCEDURE
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slope = -k
Page 6
Physics 2015 – Mechanical Energy Conservation
Activity 2 – Conservation of Energy
• First, decide where you want to make your GPE
= 0. Note that a good choice will make your
calculations much easier!
• Measure ALL of the masses, including the mass of
the cart, since this will be needed for your
calculations!
• Then, use your equations to calculate GPE, EPE,
and KE for a cart without mass on the top, and
for a cart with mass.
PROCEDURE
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Page 7
Physics 2015 – Mechanical Energy Conservation
• Remember that percent energy change is:
−
%   =
(∆)
• Note in this setup that  = mass off the
edge of the table (excluding cart), and Δx is the
spring length change (which is also the change in
height of the mass!)
• If you do find an energy change is not zero, ask if
your system was “totally closed.” Was some
energy not accounted for?
HINTS
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Page 8
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