Conservation of energy of while rolling down a hill
as part of its collaboration with the SERC Pedagogic Service.
Students will learn to apply the concept of conservation of energy to a real-life situation. As a result, the intention of this activity is that students will:
- Learn to extract data from video clips to find quantitative information.
- Use quantitative information they glean in combination with the concept of conservation of mechanical energy to determine quantitatively whether mechanical energy is conserved.
- Be able to form conclusions about what types of vehicles roll with the least loss of mechanical energy.
Context for Use
These are very short video clips that show a boy rolling past a ladder at the bottom of the hill. When stepping through the video one frame at a time (using Quicktime player, for example), students can count the number of frames it takes for the boy to roll past the ladder to determine the velocity. The instructions below show how this can be used to explore whether mechanical energy is conserved as the boy rolls down the hill, and how much mechanical energy is lost to friction.
Each of the three Quicktime video files below shows a boy rolling past a ladder positioned at the bottom of the hill. Each video tells the height of the hill, and the length of an object moving with the boy. With this information, students can determine the velocity of the boy as he rolls past the bottom of the hill.
Note that the videos to the right are not for use in this activity since most Flash players do not allow viewers to step through the video frame by frame. Use the three Quicktime video files linked here.
- video of boy rolling down driveway on rollerblades (Quicktime Video 252kB Aug29 10) Quicktime version for use in the activity.
- video of boy rolling down driveway on bike (Quicktime Video 280kB Aug29 10) Quicktime version for use in the activity.
- video clip of a boy rolling down a driveway on a large wheeled bicycle (Quicktime Video 261kB Sep18 10) Quicktime version for use in the activity.
Student Handout and Instructions
student/teacher instructions for conservation of energy of a bike rolling down a driveway (Microsoft Word 683kB Sep18 10) These instructions describe how students can use the data gleaned from the video to find the percent of mechanical energy that is lost to friction. The instructions are very detailed and include sample questions and sample results. Teachers may choose to modify these instructions so that they include less detail, making this activity more inquiry-based.
Teaching Notes and Tips
Students need computers equipped with a video player, such as Quicktime player that allows them to view the video frame-by-frame, so that they can determine the speed of the boy at the bottom of the hill. The data collection can be an in-class activity, with each student doing their own work on their own computer, or, a teacher led activity with the videos projected on a screen in front of the class. Once students have determined the number of frames for the boy to pass one of the ladder posts, the rest of the activity can be done without computers.
See a complete description of how to teach with video clips, including pedagogic strategies and a collection of sample videos.