Online reading assignment: energy conservation

Physics 205A, fall semester 2019
Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA

Students have a bi-weekly online reading assignment (hosted by SurveyMonkey.com), where they answer questions based on reading their textbook, material covered in previous lectures, opinion questions, and/or asking (anonymous) questions or making (anonymous) comments. Full credit is given for completing the online reading assignment before next week's lecture, regardless if whether their answers are correct/incorrect. Selected results/questions/comments are addressed by the instructor at the start of the following lecture.

The following questions were asked on reading textbook chapters and previewing a presentation on energy conservation.

Selected/edited responses are given below.

Describe what you understand from the assigned textbook reading or presentation preview. Your description (2-3 sentences) should specifically demonstrate your level of understanding.
"The easiest concept for me to understand from the reading and slide is the fact that translational kinetic energy is directly correlated to speed, in that if speed increases, so does translational kinetic energy."

"Gravitational potential energy is the energy that an object of mass has by its position in relation to the surface of Earth measured by the height of the object and an arbitrary zero level."

"I think gravitational potential energy is the easiest energy type to identify. If an object is 2 m off the ground then it has more gravitational potential energy than if the same object were 1 m off the ground."

"The gravitational force can do negative and positive work and that only the initial and final position should be considered when solving problems. This is also why it is considered a conservative force. Also, the greater the height, the greater gravitational potential energy is."

"A conservative force is not dependent on the path between start and finish points. Therefore, these types of forces also equate to zero work if the start and finish are the same."

"Conservative force is when the work done on an object is independent from the path taken between the initial and final heights, or when it does no net work on an object on a closed path. Nonconservative force is when the work done on an object moving between two points does depend on the path of motion, as we see with force of friction, air resistance, tension, etc."

"The basics of gravitational and elastic potential energy. And how they are combined with the change in translational kinetic energy in transfer balance equation."

"When a spring is pulled back it causes the energy to be stored and once released it shoots out."

"I have learned that elastic potential energy, translational kinetic energy and gravitational potential energy all play a part in non-conservative and conservative work. As the height of where an object is increases, so does its gravitational potential energy. As a slingshot is stretched back with a rock in the sling, the elastic potential energy increases. As it is fired off, the translational kinetic energy increases, and elastic potential energy decreases."

"This specific topic was kind of a blur, not gonna lie. I understand conservative forces and how how they can store energy and later retrieve without loss, and the opposite for nonconservative energy. That makes sense, but what doesn't is the application of information into the equations."

"Not much."

Describe what you found confusing from the assigned textbook reading or presentation preview. Your description (2-3 sentences) should specifically identify the concept(s) that you do not understand.
"I am a little unsure if the translational kinetic energy is simply increased as an object's movement or speed increases."

"Translational kinetic energy is difficult to comprehend on a practical level."

"Applying the equations to gravitational potential energy and elastic potential energy. Also need better clarification of conservative and non-conservative work."

"The transfer-balance equation and how to use it."

"I would like an example of using the transfer-balance equation in class because I am still confused on how to properly implement it into my problem-solving."

"I found the transfer-balance equation slightly confusing at first but then soon realized that its a total energy conservation equation. Other than that I did not find anything else confusing."

"I found it confusing to apply the certain types of energies to certain problems. For example, when do you use potential energy, kinetic energy, and/or mechanical energy? I understand the differences of the three. However, will a question on a test ask us to find one of these or a few of these or will we have to decide that based on the problem? "

For the woman moving upwards after being catapulted, her translational kinetic energy __________ while her gravitational potential energy __________.
decreases; increases.   *************************************** [39]
increases; decreases.   ********* [9]
(Unsure/lost/guessing/help!)   * [1]

For the ball bearing being launched by the slingshot, its translational kinetic energy __________ while the elastic potential energy of the slingshot bands __________.
decreases; increases.   ********** [10]
increases; decreases.   ************************************** [38]
(Unsure/lost/guessing/help!)   * [1]

For the woman falling off the building starting from the edge of the roof to just before reaching her lowest point of descent, indicate the changes in each her of energy forms. (Only correct responses shown.)
Translational kinetic energy: increases. [80%]
Gravitational potential energy: decreases. [74%]
Elastic potential energy (of the bungee cords): increases. [76%]

For the woman falling off the building starting from the edge of the roof to just before reaching her lowest point of descent, the energy form that experienced the greatest amount of change (increase or decrease) was:
her translational kinetic energy.   ************* [13]
her gravitational potential energy.   *************** [15]
the elastic potential energy of the bungee cords.   **************** [16]
(Unsure/lost/guessing/help!)   ***** [5]

Ask the instructor an anonymous question, or make a comment. Selected questions/comments may be discussed in class.
"How do we know when something is non-conservative and conservative?"

"For the examples above, they were cases of either an increase of kinetic energy and decrease of gravitational potential energy, or vice versa. Is it possible the have increase-increase or decrease-decrease?" (Only if there was (positive) work be done to add energy to the system, or (negative) work being done to remove energy from the system. Otherwise if there are only two types of energy and no work being transferred to/from the system, then an increase in one type of energy must be fed by a corresponding decrease in the other type of energy, and vice versa.)

"For the woman on the bungee swing, how are we supposed to know which energy experiences the greatest amount of change without numeric values?"

"Will there be a study guide for the midterm that's a little more structured on the key concepts we need to know? Or do we just have to shuffle through our quizzes and homework, etc.?" (Go through the list of example midterm questions on next week's announcements page. The idea is that the methods and concepts used to answer those examples is what you would need to apply to answer your upcoming midterm.)

"Having a hard time understanding the textbook, YouTube is my friend but also sometimes my enemy."

"Can we do an end of the year potluck?" (The final exam is basically a "knowledge potluck." Everyone should bring something.)

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