Scientists Say: Kinetic energy

When an object is in motion, its energy has a special name

roller coaster

When a roller coaster races down the slope, it has a lot of kinetic energy.

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Kinetic energy (noun, “Ki-NEH-tik EN-ur-gee”)

The energy an object has due to being in motion. The amount will depend on the mass of the object and how fast it is moving. Kinetic energy is also the work that’s needed to move an object with mass from rest to a particular speed. A roller coaster racing down a steep slope has kinetic energy. It has the energy needed to bring the cars from stationary to speedy. Because roller coaster cars are large, when they move very fast a lot of kinetic energy is involved. 

In a sentence

In hybrid cars, computers control the wheels and convert the kinetic energy of the turning tires into electricity.

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Power Words

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kinetic energy  The energy an object possesses due to its being in motion. The amount of this energy will depend on both the mass (usually weight) of the object and its speed.

Bethany Brookshire was a longtime staff writer at Science News Explores and is the author of the book Pests: How Humans Create Animal Villains. She has a Ph.D. in physiology and pharmacology and likes to write about neuroscience, biology, climate and more. She thinks Porgs are an invasive species.

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