Forms of Energy

Science, Grade 6


Table Of Contents: Forms of Energy

1. Different Forms of Energy
Energy can have many forms, including mechanical, thermal, electrical, chemical, nuclear and electromagnetic energy.
2. Mechanical Energy
Moving objects, such a soccer ball, have mechanical energy. The total energy of position and motion of an object is its mechanical energy. You can calculate mechanical energy by adding an object’s potential and kinetic energy. If the soccer ball has 40 joules of potential energy and 80 joules of kinetic energy from its motion, then the ball has 120 joules of mechanical energy.
3. Thermal Energy
Thermal energy refers to the energy created by the motion of the particles within objects. The faster the particles move, the more thermal energy they have. Water can be found as a solid, liquid or gas, depending on the amount of thermal energy that is present. The ice cube, with its vibrating particles, has the least thermal energy and the water vapor, with its fast-moving particles, has the most thermal energy.
4. Chemical Energy
Chemical energy is the potential energy that is stored in chemical bonds. When you eat food, such as an apple, your body breaks down the molecules of sugar within the apple and creates chemical energy in the form of ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate). Other types of chemical energy include fossil fuels and explosives. For example, when coal is burned, it produces energy that can be used to supply power.
5. Electrical Energy
Electrical energy is produced by the movement of charged particles called electrons. Lightning is a form of natural electrical energy. The electricity you use in your home to turn on a lamp is produced by a power supply, such as a power plant. A switch allows the electricity to flow, and once the current reaches the lamp, the light is turned on. The electrical energy has been transformed to light and heat energy.
6. Nuclear Energy
Nuclear energy is created when changes occur within the nucleus of certain atoms. An example is found in the Sun’s core, where hydrogen nuclear fusion reactions produce large amounts of nuclear energy. This energy creates the Sun’s heat. Another example is the energy created from the nuclear fission reactions of uranium. This type of energy is used in nuclear power plants.
7. Electromagnetic Energy
Electromagnetic energy travels in waves that have both electrical and magnetic properties. The energy that is transferred by these waves is known as electromagnetic radiation. The electromagnetic spectrum shows the range of electromagnetic waves, including radio waves, microwaves, infrared rays, visible light, ultraviolet rays, X-rays and gamma rays. These are arranged on the spectrum from longest to shortest wavelength.