Forms of Energy

The Power of Two

In a Flash

Energy Forms Diagram

Objects in motion have kinetic energy; stationary objects can hold potential energy.

Forms of energy

While energy can come in many different types, there are only two main forms of energy: kinetic energy and potential energy. These energies are found in all objects.

If an object is in motion (i.e. moving), it is said to have kinetic energy.

Energy stored within an object – due to the object's position, arrangement or state - is known as potential energy.

Burning Questions

Motocross Racers

Mass (weight) combined with velocity (speed) creates kinetic energy.

What is kinetic energy?

Kinetic energy is the energy of motion. If an object is moving, it has kinetic energy.

  • Velocity: The speed the object is moving in a particular direction.

  • Mass: How much matter is in the object (this is usually measured by the weight of the object).

The faster an object moves, the more kinetic energy it has.

What are some examples of kinetic energy?

Examples of kinetic energy include:

  • An airplane in flight
  • A ball being thrown
  • A car travelling on a road
  • A river flowing
  • A person running
sling shot

The slingshot band is full of potential energy.

What is potential energy?

Potential energy is energy that is stored in an object or substance. This stored energy is due to the position, arrangement or state of the object or substance.

You can think of it as energy that has the 'potential' to do work. When the position, arrangement or state of the object changes, the stored energy will be released.

What are some examples of potential energy?

Examples of potential energy include:

  • A rock sitting on the edge of a cliff. If the rock falls, the potential energy will be converted to kinetic energy, as the rock will be moving.
  • A stretched elastic band in a slingshot. When the elastic band is released, it will cause its projectile to shoot forward.
  • A stick of dynamite. The chemical potential energy in dynamite will be released when the fuse is lit and comes into contact with the chemicals.
  • The food we eat. Food contains chemical potential energy – as our bodies digest it, the stored energy is converted into energy for us to move and grow.

What Do You Mean?


One of the most common energy transfers, is the transfer from potential energy to kinetic energy.

Kinetic energy is the energy of a moving object.

Potential energy is energy that is stored in an object or substance.

Velocity is the speed of a moving object in a particular direction.

Mass is the amount of matter contained within an object.

Cool Facts

All objects have kinetic energy, no matter their size – that means kinetic energy can be found in something as tiny as an atom and as huge as a planet!

Speedy Summary

Runner's Feet

Our potential energy becomes kinetic when we run.

Energy can be divided into two main forms: kinetic – the energy of an object in motion, and potential – energy that is stored within an object or substance.