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This is the original Java version of the PhET Energy Skate Park simulation, in which students explore conservation of energy by building ramps, jumps, and tracks for a skateboarder. For the beginning learner, the relationship of kinetic and potential energy is well illustrated by clicking "Bar Graph". Friction can be set from low to high -- then observe the effects on the skater's speed and watch what happens to the thermal energy bar graph. For more advanced learners, turn on the Energy vs. Position and Energy vs. Time graphs, displayed in real time for each skate run. The simulation provides a default skater or pre-set track configuration, but learners can also adjust the mass of the skater and drag track to customize the skate run. Finally, the skater can be transported to different planets to illustrate the effects of changing the gravitational constant.

See Related Resources for a simpler version of this simulation: "Energy Skate Park Basics", which is available in HTML5. The basic version does not introduce energy graphs or changes in gravitational constant, and is appropriate for upper elementary and middle school learners.

Please note that this resource requires at least version 1.5.0 of Java Applet Plug-in.
Editor's Note: This resource  is part of a large collection of interactive simulations freely available from the Physics Education Technology project (PhET) at the University of Colorado.   Registered users also have access to a supplementary set of lesson plans, printable student guides, clicker questions, and assessments designed specifically to accompany the "Energy Skate Park" simulation. Registration is free.
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Classical Mechanics
- Gravity
- Motion in Two Dimensions
= Position & Displacement
- Work and Energy
Education Practices
- Active Learning
= Modeling
- High School
- Lower Undergraduate
- Middle School
- Instructional Material
= Activity
= Interactive Simulation
Appropriate Courses Categories Ratings
- Physics First
- Conceptual Physics
- Algebra-based Physics
- AP Physics
- Activity
- New teachers
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Access Rights:
Free access
This material is released under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license. Additional information is available.
Rights Holder:
University of Colorado at Boulder
GPE, KE, PE, conservation of energy, friction, gravitational potential energy, kinetic energy, mechanical energy, potential energy, work
Record Cloner:
Metadata instance created October 3, 2006 by Caroline Hall
Record Updated:
December 28, 2017 by Caroline Hall
Last Update
when Cataloged:
March 3, 2006
Other Collections:

This resource is part of a Physics Front Topical Unit.

Topic: Conservation of Energy
Unit Title: Conservation of Energy

This the original Java version of Energy Skate Park. It offers additional features not available in the "Basics" version, such as graphs of Energy vs. Position and Energy vs. Time. Students can change the gravitational constant to see how the motion would appear on different planets.

Link to Unit:
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Record Link
AIP Format
(PhET, Boulder, 2005), WWW Document, (https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/energy-skate-park).
PhET Simulation: Energy Skate Park - Original Version, (PhET, Boulder, 2005), <https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/energy-skate-park>.
APA Format
PhET Simulation: Energy Skate Park - Original Version. (2006, March 3). Retrieved January 27, 2022, from PhET: https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/energy-skate-park
Chicago Format
PhET. PhET Simulation: Energy Skate Park - Original Version. Boulder: PhET, March 3, 2006. https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/energy-skate-park (accessed 27 January 2022).
MLA Format
PhET Simulation: Energy Skate Park - Original Version. Boulder: PhET, 2005. 3 Mar. 2006. 27 Jan. 2022 <https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/energy-skate-park>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Title = {PhET Simulation: Energy Skate Park - Original Version}, Publisher = {PhET}, Volume = {2022}, Number = {27 January 2022}, Month = {March 3, 2006}, Year = {2005} }
Refer Export Format

%T PhET Simulation: Energy Skate Park - Original Version %D March 3, 2006 %I PhET %C Boulder %U https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/energy-skate-park %O application/java

EndNote Export Format

%0 Electronic Source %D March 3, 2006 %T PhET Simulation: Energy Skate Park - Original Version %I PhET %V 2022 %N 27 January 2022 %8 March 3, 2006 %9 application/java %U https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/energy-skate-park

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PhET Simulation: Energy Skate Park - Original Version:

Is Supplemented By PhET Teacher Ideas & Activities: Energy Skate Park Clicker Questions

A set of clicker questions in Power Point format developed specifically for use with the PhET Energy Skate Park simulation.

relation by Caroline Hall
Is Associated With PhET Simulation: Energy Skate Park Basics

A simpler HTML5 version of "Energy Skate Park", appropriate for beginners or students who are struggling with the content.

relation by Caroline Hall

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