Lab: Kinetic and potential energy of a mass and spring


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Because spring steel is so elastic, steel springs can be very efficient in conserving kinetic plus potential energy.
In this Scratch-based lab, you will analyze the motion of a mass that is sliding on a frictionless surface towards a perfectly elastic spring. You will gather data on the elapsed time and the position of the mass. From this, you can estimate the velocity of the mass, and therefore its kinetic energy. Since the spring is perfectly elastic, any change in kinetic energy must be balanced by a change in potential energy.

  1. Go to the online lab.
  2. Create a spreadsheet with these columns: (time), (position), (velocity, which you will estimate), KE (kinetic energy, computed), TE (total energy, computed), and PE (potential energy, computed).
  3. Create a blog post named "Lab: Kinetic and potential energy of a mass and spring." Use the physics lab report template for the body of your post.
  4. Using the data in your spreadsheet, create these graphs:
    1. position vs. time
    2. velocity vs. time
    3. graph PE vs. position, stopping when PE is a maximum
    4. KE vs. time
  5. In your lab report, answer these questions, looking only at the part of the graph where the block is in contact with the spring:
    1. What kind of relationship do you think is depicted in the position vs. time graph?
    2. What kind of relationship do you think is depicted in the velocity vs. time graph?
    3. What kind of relationship do you think is depicted in the PE vs. position graph?
    4. What kind of relationship do you think is depicted in the KE vs. time graph?

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