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In this HTML5 simulation, students explore how energy is conserved in a system of a skateboarder moving on a track.  Bar graph and pie charts are displayed to show changes in kinetic energy and potential energy as the skater moves along the track. Use the pre-set tracks or customize your own skate runs. Click "Friction" and watch as thermal energy is displayed alongside PE and KE graphs. How does friction affect the motion of the skater? Does changing the mass of the skater make a difference in the motion? In the final challenge, students create and test their own track configurations.

See Related Materials for a more complex Java version of this simulation, "Energy Skate Park", which allows users to change the gravitational constant and view graphs of Energy vs. Time and Energy vs. Position for each skate run.
Editor's Note: Supplementary Materials Registered PhET users also have access to teacher-created lesson plans, printable student guides, clicker questions, and assessments developed specifically to accompany "Energy Skate Park Basics". Registration is easy and cost-free.
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Classical Mechanics
- Applications of Newton's Laws
= Friction
- Gravity
- Motion in Two Dimensions
= Position & Displacement
- Work and Energy
= Conservation of Energy
Education Practices
- Active Learning
= Modeling
- Middle School
- High School
- Elementary School
- Instructional Material
= Interactive Simulation
Appropriate Courses Categories Ratings
- Physical Science
- Physics First
- Conceptual Physics
- Algebra-based Physics
- AP Physics
- Activity
- New teachers
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Intended User:
Access Rights:
Free access
This material is released under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license.
Rights Holder:
University of Colorado
energy conversion, energy transfer, energy transformation, friction, kinetic energy, potential energy, thermal energy
Record Cloner:
Metadata instance created December 28, 2017 by Caroline Hall
Record Updated:
October 22, 2018 by Caroline Hall
Last Update
when Cataloged:
December 22, 2017

Next Generation Science Standards

Energy (MS-PS3)

Students who demonstrate understanding can: (6-8)
  • Construct and interpret graphical displays of data to describe the relationships of kinetic energy to the mass of an object and to the speed of an object. (MS-PS3-1)

Disciplinary Core Ideas (K-12)

Forces and Motion (PS2.A)
  • The motion of an object is determined by the sum of the forces acting on it; if the total force on the object is not zero, its motion will change. The greater the mass of the object, the greater the force needed to achieve the same change in motion. For any given object, a larger force causes a larger change in motion. (6-8)
Types of Interactions (PS2.B)
  • The gravitational force of Earth acting on an object near Earth's surface pulls that object toward the planet's center. (5)
Definitions of Energy (PS3.A)
  • Motion energy is properly called kinetic energy; it is proportional to the mass of the moving object and grows with the square of its speed. (6-8)
  • A system of objects may also contain stored (potential) energy, depending on their relative positions. (6-8)
  • Energy is a quantitative property of a system that depends on the motion and interactions of matter and radiation within that system. That there is a single quantity called energy is due to the fact that a system's total energy is conserved, even as, within the system, energy is continually transferred from one object to another and between its various possible forms. (9-12)
Conservation of Energy and Energy Transfer (PS3.B)
  • Energy is present whenever there are moving objects, sound, light, or heat. When objects collide, energy can be transferred from one object to another, thereby changing their motion. In such collisions, some energy is typically also transferred to the surrounding air; as a result, the air gets heated and sound is produced. (4)
  • When the motion energy of an object changes, there is inevitably some other change in energy at the same time. (6-8)
  • Conservation of energy means that the total change of energy in any system is always equal to the total energy transferred into or out of the system. (9-12)

Crosscutting Concepts (K-12)

Systems and System Models (K-12)
  • Models can be used to represent systems and their interactions—such as inputs, processes and outputs— and energy, matter, and information flows within systems. (6-8)
  • When investigating or describing a system, the boundaries and initial conditions of the system need to be defined and their inputs and outputs analyzed and described using models. (9-12)
Energy and Matter (2-12)
  • The transfer of energy can be tracked as energy flows through a designed or natural system. (6-8)
  • Within a natural or designed system, the transfer of energy drives the motion and/or cycling of matter. (6-8)
  • Changes of energy and matter in a system can be described in terms of energy and matter flows into, out of, and within that system. (9-12)
  • Energy cannot be created or destroyed—it only moves between one place and another place, between objects and/or fields, or between systems. (9-12)
Structure and Function (K-12)
  • Structures can be designed to serve particular functions. (6-8)

NGSS Science and Engineering Practices (K-12)

Analyzing and Interpreting Data (K-12)
  • Analyzing data in 3–5 builds on K–2 experiences and progresses to introducing quantitative approaches to collecting data and conducting multiple trials of qualitative observations. When possible and feasible, digital tools should be used. (3-5)
    • Represent data in graphical displays (bar graphs, pictographs and/or pie charts) to reveal patterns that indicate relationships. (5)
  • Analyzing data in 6–8 builds on K–5 and progresses to extending quantitative analysis to investigations, distinguishing between correlation and causation, and basic statistical techniques of data and error analysis. (6-8)
    • Analyze and interpret data to provide evidence for phenomena. (6-8)
Developing and Using Models (K-12)
  • Modeling in 3–5 builds on K–2 experiences and progresses to building and revising simple models and using models to represent events and design solutions. (3-5)
    • Use models to describe phenomena. (5)
  • Modeling in 6–8 builds on K–5 and progresses to developing, using and revising models to describe, test, and predict more abstract phenomena and design systems. (6-8)
    • Develop and use a model to describe phenomena. (6-8)
  • Modeling in 9–12 builds on K–8 and progresses to using, synthesizing, and developing models to predict and show relationships among variables between systems and their components in the natural and designed worlds. (9-12)
    • Use a model to predict the relationships between systems or between components of a system. (9-12)

This resource is part of 2 Physics Front Topical Units.

Topic: Dynamics: Forces and Motion
Unit Title: Frictional Forces

This model, newly converted to HTML5, provides a highly visual way for students to investigate friction in a system of a skateboarder moving on a track. It begins with an idealized system (no friction) with bar graph showing changes in kinetic and potential energy as the skater moves along the track. Click "Friction" to set frictional force from low to high. As friction is introduced to the system, thermal energy is displayed alongside PE and KE in the bar graph. Students can readily see how friction affects the motion of the skater.

Link to Unit:

Topic: Conservation of Energy
Unit Title: Conservation of Energy

This mobile-friendly simulation is an HTML rewrite of the PhET fave "Energy Skate Park". In this version first explore an idealized system (no friction) and visualize conservation of energy as Energy Bar Graphs display changing kinetic and potential energy levels. Click "Friction" and observe the effects on the skater's motion. The bar graph changes to show kinetic energy being converted to thermal energy, resulting from friction.Note: This version is much simpler than the original Java version of Energy Skate Park, which introduces energy graphs and inputs to set gravitational constant. This version is more appropriate for middle school; the Java version (below) will be preferable to HS physics teachers.

Link to Unit:
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AIP Format
(PhET, Boulder, 2017), WWW Document, (https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/energy-skate-park-basics).
PhET Simulation: Energy Skate Park Basics (PhET, Boulder, 2017), <https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/energy-skate-park-basics>.
APA Format
PhET Simulation: Energy Skate Park Basics. (2017, December 22). Retrieved May 20, 2024, from PhET: https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/energy-skate-park-basics
Chicago Format
PhET. PhET Simulation: Energy Skate Park Basics. Boulder: PhET, December 22, 2017. https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/energy-skate-park-basics (accessed 20 May 2024).
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PhET Simulation: Energy Skate Park Basics. Boulder: PhET, 2017. 22 Dec. 2017. 20 May 2024 <https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/energy-skate-park-basics>.
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@misc{ Title = {PhET Simulation: Energy Skate Park Basics}, Publisher = {PhET}, Volume = {2024}, Number = {20 May 2024}, Month = {December 22, 2017}, Year = {2017} }
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%T PhET Simulation: Energy Skate Park Basics %D December 22, 2017 %I PhET %C Boulder %U https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/energy-skate-park-basics %O text/html

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%0 Electronic Source %D December 22, 2017 %T PhET Simulation: Energy Skate Park Basics %I PhET %V 2024 %N 20 May 2024 %8 December 22, 2017 %9 text/html %U https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/energy-skate-park-basics

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PhET Simulation: Energy Skate Park Basics:

Is Associated With PhET Simulation: Energy Skate Park - Original Version

A more complex Java version of the "Energy Skate Park" simulation, appropriate for high school and undergraduate learners.

relation by Caroline Hall

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