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Kinetic Energy

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Fun On the Freeway
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How does kinetic energy affect the motion of your vehicle?

License: CC BY-NC 3.0

You, driving your Toyota Sienna. [Figure1]

In physics, energy is a result of putting in a certain amount of work. You have probably already learned about potential energy, which is the energy related to height and gravity. However, there is another type of energy, one where you put in work to create motion. This type of energy is called kinetic energy. Kinetic means motion. The expression for kinetic energy is (1/2)mv2.

You are driving a 1500 kg Toyota Sienna on the freeway at 60 mph.

Creative Applications

1. What is the kinetic energy of your Toyota Sienna?

At one point, you realized that your friend who didn’t want to go to the high school dance with you is driving the car in front of you. You hesitate to see her so you decided to step on the gas and pass her quickly at 120 mph.

2. What is the kinetic energy of your Toyota Sienna now?

3. How much more stopping distance do you need now because you are going twice as fast? (Hint: It is the same as the change in kinetic energy)

Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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