Physics is a broad subject that covers many different topics. The study of physics is known as the knowledge of nature. It looks at the natural science that studies matter, motion and its behaviour through space and time. By studying physics you're going to have to learn more about energy and force.

In Canada, many students may be considering enrolling in physics in high school, but are unsure of what to expect. If you are unsure this article is for you. We'll walk you through the physics syllabus, but since physics is such a broad subject we're going to break each subject into different parts. In this article, we'll look at energy. After reading check out our other articles on physics to learn more. You can decide if physics is right for you.

In Canada, physics and its various sub-topics such as energy can be studied when students are in grade 11 or 12. 

Superprof will now examine the high school Physics Syllabus' first topic of Energy in order to help potential students decide if this syllabus is for them. Since there are various examination boards across Canada offering high school qualifications, we will closely review the High School Physics Syllabus.

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What are Energy Stores?

energy sources
Magnetic energy is stored when repelling poles have been pushed closer together. (Source: pixabay)

 

Energy can be described as being separated into different "stores." It cannot be destroyed or created but transferred or stored in distinct ways. The seven main stores of energy are furthered examined in this section and be described as the following:

  • Magnetic: the energy is stored when repelling poles have been pushed closer together or when attracting poles have been pulled farther apart from each other. Examples of this energy store can be seen in fridge magnets and compasses.
  • Internal or thermal: in objects that are higher in temperature, particles have more internal energy and can vibrate faster than other objects. Some examples of this energy store can be observed in human bodies, hot coffees or stovetops.
  • Chemical: the energy that is stored in chemical bonds and can be observed in foods or muscles.
  • Kinetic: the energy of a moving object. Some examples of this energy storage can be observed in those who run, buses and practically anything that moves.
  • Electrostatic: the energy stored when repelling charges have been moved closer together or attracting charges have been pulled farther together. This can be seen most commonly in thunderclouds.
  • Elastic potential: energy stored when an object is stretched or squashed.
  • Gravitational potential: the energy of an object that is in the air at a significant height. Examples include airplanes or kites.

Energy can remain in the same store for hundreds or even millions of years or sometimes only for a slight period of time such as a second or fraction of a second. These are known as energy transfers and they can be observed all the time.

Energy can be transferred in one of four energy transfers known as:

  • Mechanical work, 
  • Electrical work, 
  • Heating,
  • Radiation. 

The word "work" is used as a scientific way of saying that energy has been transferred. 

To get a better understanding of the energy flow there is energy for diagrams to help you understand how energy is transferred from one store to another. The most commonly utilized diagrams are the transfer diagrams and the Sankey diagrams.

In the first section of Energy of the physics syllabus, students will learn about energy dissipation. This is a scientific term used to describe how energy that is wasted is not fully utilized. Energy can be lost by heating up its surroundings or is dissipated as sound waves. Another important factor students will learn the calculations of kinetic energy using.

Students will continuously be tested to ensure they have an understanding of the information being taught an important equation.

Work, Power and Efficiency

A crucial part of physics is energy. It simply allows for the work to be done, but within the energy, there is work, power and efficiency. The rate of energy transferred is called power. The amount of energy that is transferred is known as efficiency. Knowing these 3 words when studying energy is going to be important for students to know. We'll further break them down below.

Work

A simple way to remember work is energy transferred=work done. When a force causes a body to move the work is being done of the object by force. The work that was done and the energy transferred can be measured in joules.

Calculating work done depends on two things: the size of the force acting on the object and the distance through which the force causes the body to move. The equation is the following, work done= force x distance or W= F x d. The work done is measured in joules (J), force is measured in newtons (N) and distance (d) is in the same direction of the force and is measured in metres (m).

Power

Students next analyze the equation of power. The more powerful a device the more energy it will transfer per second. Calculating power can be done using a simple formula that is not too difficult to grasp:

power = \frac{work~done}{time}    0r       power = \frac{W}{t}

(Images are courtesy of BBC.com/bitesize/guides)

Power is measured in watts (W), work done (W) is measured in Joules (J), and time (t) is measured in seconds (s).

One watt is equal to one joule per second (J/s). This brings students to the conclusion that for every extra joule that is transferred per second, the power is increased by one watt.

Efficiency

Devices such as televisions, refrigerators and washing machines are designed to waste as little energy as possible. As much energy input as possible should be transferred into useful energy stores. Efficiency is defined by determining how good a device is at transferring energy input to useful energy output.

An efficient device wastes very little energy and an inefficient device wastes a lot of energy.  

Students in this section learn equations to determine efficiency as a decimal or percentage. The equations are as follows:

efficiency = \frac{useful~energy~transferred}{total~energy~supplied} percentage~efficiency = efficiency \times 100 (percentage~efficiency = \frac{useful~energy~transferred}{total~energy~supplied} \times 100)

(The images above are courtesy of BBC.com/bitesizes/guides.)

Calculations can be hard when you first learn them, but after a while, they will become easier. You can even work with physics tutors if you're having issues. Superprof has 100s of physics tutors across Canada that are ready to help you. They have the knowledge and experience to teach you the best way possible. Superprof also offers lessons online and in-person giving you the freedom and flexibility to learn when you want to learn.

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Energy and Heating

In this third section of the topic of Energy, students examine different concepts and perform various experiments. First and foremost pupils learn the basics of how energy is transmitted by conduction, convection or radiation. The conductivity of different materials can be determined by comparing the time taken to transmit energy through them.

Conductors are materials that allow internal or thermal energy to be transferred through them relatively easily. All metals are very good conductors. Insulators are materials that will not allow the easy flow of energy through them. A cushion on a dining room chair would be an insulator since energy or heat will not transfer through it rapidly.

 

science experiments
Bunsen burners can be used to used in scientific experiments to determine thermal conductivity. (Source: pixabay)

Thermal Conductivity

This a measure to determine how well a material conducts energy when heated. There are many experiments that can be done to discover this using a Bunsen burner. Rods made of different materials can be heated and the one that heats the quickest is said to have a high thermal conductivity. There are lots of experiments students can expect to perform during class. There are two parts of this section and it necessary for all students to undergo these scientific experiments. Here are some links to better understand part one and part two.

Energy Demands

solar power
Energy from the sun or solar power is a renewable energy that is commonly used today. (Source: pixabay)

All humans, animals and man-made devices transfer energy. The energy transferred is mostly supplied by electricity which was generated from other energy sources. There are both renewable and non-renewable sources of energy.Almost everything needs energy and there are various resources of energy available on planet earth. Some of these energy resources include fossil fuels, nuclear fuel, bio-fuel, wind, hydroelectricity and geothermal just to name a few.

Energy is needed in a variety of places for many different things such as the following:

  • Homes: used mostly for cooking food on the stove and heating the house during wintertime.
  • Public places: in hospitals, schools, and government-owned buildings to run machinery and cool or warm the rooms.
  • Industries and factories: for running heavy-duty machines and production chains.
  • Public and private transport systems: cars, buses, and trucks need a fuel source and many trams or trains are connected to an electric power source.

Students analyze where most energy resources are needed, how some can cause damage to the environment and the patterns and trends of energy consumption. The definition and examples of renewable and non-renewable energy resources are taught to pupils in this section; you may want a maths and physics tutor to go over them with you. It is important to note that non-renewable energy resources damage the earth more than renewable resources. The following table describes the features of some of the most common renewable energy resources used today:

Energy ResourceEnergy StoreVarious UsesEnvironmental Impact
GeothermalThermalGeneration of Electricity and HeatingVery little
HydroelectricityGravitational PotentialGeneration of ElectricityLocal inhabitants and wildlife are affected by large areas that are flooded
SunNuclearGeneration of Electricity and HeatingThe solar panels are of very little damage to the environment
Wind-PowerKineticGeneration of ElectricityAccording to many windmills ruin views and require too much space

Is Physics Right For You?

Learning about physics can be extremely interesting, especially when learning about energy. There are lots of fun experiments students can try out. It'll help them further their understanding and they'll have a good time learning. If you liked this article it would be wise to observe the other topics considered in the High School Physics Syllabus such as electricity, particle model of matter, atomic structure, forces, waves, magnetism and electromagnetism and space physics.

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Chester

You can usually find me writing at a cafe sipping on coffee or working out at the gym. I fell in love with writing a few years ago and have never looked back. I love being able to share my words with the world.