Energy Transferred by Working
Energy and Thermal Physics

One weeks' journeys

Classroom Activity for 11-14 Supporting Physics Teaching

What the Activity is for

To investigate the energy costs of travel.

To establish that energy is measured in joules and that some kinds of travel are more expensive than others.

What to Prepare

  • a diary of a week's travel activity for a pupil, showing the number of kilometres travelled by each mode of transport.

What Happens During this Activity

This activity could usefully be carried out with spreadsheets, using technology to help keep track of the calculations.

Draw up a table of the number of kilometres for each mode of travel and use this to find out how many joules have been expended for each one:

energy cost for one person to travel one kmkilojoule
bicycle65
walking232
running287
moped371
car (1 person – 30 mph)2264
car (5 people – 30 mph)506
car (1 person – 60 mph)3444
car (5 people – 60 mph)767
train470

Look for common patterns and differences among the pupils. You could make this into something of an exercise in the analysis of data: what hypotheses might explain the patterns?

Again, draw special attention to the way in which the common currency allows pupils to compare very different modes of transport.

Energy Transferred by Working
appears in the relation dU=dQ+dW
is used in analyses relating to Working Engines Thermionic Emission
is a special case of Work
has the special case Potential Energy Kinetic Energy
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