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Gravitational Potential Energy

An explanation of the theory and formula.

Gena Roach

on 4 July 2013

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Transcript of Gravitational Potential Energy

Gravitational potential energy
is the energy stored in an object when it is lifted to any position above the Earth's surface

The work done to get to that height is the same amount of gravitational potential energy the object gains

Watch what happens to Wiley Coyote when he gains too much gravitational potential energy...
Obstacle 1
Obstacle 2
Obstacle 3
It is called "gravitational" potential energy because the work of lifting the object against gravity causes the object to have potential energy. The higher it is lifted, the more work done and the more potential energy it gains
The Equation:
Now you understand Gravitational Potential Energy!
If you have any questions please contact your teacher for help. :)
Theory and Equation
What is Gravitational Potential Energy?
Ep(grav) = mgh
But why is it called
That's great, but how do I calculate it?
Gravitational Potential Energy
What causes the skydiver to fall? What gives him the power to shoot the girl so far in the air?
Potential energy is the ability of an object to do work. It is not doing work yet, but it can. For example, a ball being held above a table has the ability to fall when it is let go.
Gravitational Potential
stands for and it is measured
in kilograms or kg.
stands for the
on Earth. This number is

This number tells us how fast gravity is pulling us towards the center of the Earth
This is how fast you accelerate when you go skydiving.
stands for the the object has been lifted above the starting point. This is measured in meters or m.
Do not confuse this with the that stands for mass. is a quantity, is a unit of measurement.
Ep(grav) stands for gravitational potential energy. This is measured in joules or J.
Lets Try an Example!
Remember that one
is a
and the other
is a
in the equation. If a number is followed by an
such as 126
then the
stands for the
If the
stands alone, such as (312 kg)
, then the
stands for the
Watch the Mythbuster's video again.
How did the doll get the energy to fly like that?
The "skydiver" gained gravitational potential energy when it was raised above ground. When the "skydiver" was dropped, this gravitational potential energy was converted into kinetic energy. This kinetic energy was then transferred through the seesaw to the little girl, causing her to fly up in the air and gain gravitational potential energy herself. When she fell, the gravitational potential energy was converted to kinetic energy one last time.
If the skydiver from the video clip had a mass of 70.0 kg and was raised to 25.0 m above the ground, how much gravitational potential energy did he gain?

Try this question yourself, then click the next arrow to check your answer.
Watch the video!
Full transcript