Forms of Energy: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Donald Nicolas
Energy is all around us and we use it every day. In this lesson, we will review some of the different forms in which energy can be found and will look at different ways that it can be used.

What is Energy?

Get up, yes you, get up. Now do ten jumping jacks. Take a break. Tired yet? Now run in place for 20 seconds. Take another break. When you do this, you are changing forms of energy. In science, energy is the ability to do work, and work is the transfer of energy from one place or object to another. Now, let's use some energy to learn about some of the different forms of energy!

Kinetic and Potential Energy

Kinetic energy is the energy of motion. This form of energy happens when you are playing a game, riding your bike, or even doing your homework. Whenever you are moving, you are using kinetic energy.

Potential energy is energy that is stored, or not used yet. A battery has potential energy because the energy is just sitting there waiting to be used, such as when you turn on your battery powered toy car. When you are resting, your body has potential energy because you are not moving.

These batteries have potential energy because their energy has not yet been used.

Other Forms of Energy

Light Energy

Light energy is the only form of energy that we can actually see - with the other forms of energy, we only see the results. Light is a type of electromagnetic radiation energy that travels as a wave. The sun provides natural light energy which can give us a tan! Plants use the sun's light energy and convert it into food. Light is always moving; therefore, it cannot be stored and will only ever be in the form of kinetic energy.

Electrical Energy

Electrical energy is a form of energy that is created as electrons move from one atom to another. We use wires to create electrical circuits, which are pathways formed in a loop, that the electrons can move through. Electricity happens when electrons, with their charges, move around the circuit. It is through this electric current that we have the electricity in our houses that powers our televisions and computers.

Sound Energy

Sound energy is a form of energy created when objects vibrate. This vibration causes sound waves and these waves must travel through an object, such as air or water, in order to for the sound to be heard. When the vibrations are moving quickly, the sound waves will be shorter and this will create a high note. Slower vibrations cause longer sound waves and create lower notes. In space, there are no objects for sound to travel through, so there is no sound!

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