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Mechanical energy: Energy flow diagrams
Energy flow diagrams
Energy flow diagram for a falling cherry
Energy flow diagrams show what is happening to a particular type of energy as it is used or changed in some process or situation.

Energy flow diagrams can be extended to include other forms of energy, such as light energy, heat energy and sound energy.

The potential energy of a cherry on a tree can be changed into kinetic energy when the cherry falls. When it hits the ground, this energy is changed into sound energy and some heat energy as it crunches up.


  1. Describe the changes in energy that occur when a basketball is thrown up to get a goal.
  2. Sketch an energy flow diagram for a device that changes kinetic energy into electrical energy.
  3. Sketch an energy flow diagram for a rocket taking off. You should mention its chemical energy, heat energy, light energy, sound energy, kinetic energy and potential energy.
  4. Why does an aeroplane speed up as it is descending even though the pilot cuts back on the engine power?
  5. Where does the kinetic energy of the car go when the brakes are applied and the car stops? (Hint: Feel the brakes on the wheels.)


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