How to Calculate a Change in Potential Energy

••• Tomas Maracek/iStock/GettyImages

Calculating the potential energy (PE) of a falling object is a fairly simple process involving only a few numbers and a bit of arithmetic. To figure out the change in potential energy, you do the calculation twice: once for the starting position, once for the final position, then you subtract the second energy result from the first.

    Measure the initial height and mass of the object. Record your values.

    Calculate your object's initial potential energy using the following equation:

    \text{PE}=\text{mass}\times g\times\text{height}

    Use the height and mass you measured along with 9.8 m/s2 as the constant for gravity. The result will be your initial potential energy.

    Determine the object's final height and mass. Record your values.

    Compute the object's final potential energy. Use the same equation as before while still using 9.8m/s2 as the constant for gravity. But, this time use your object's final height and mass. This number will be your final potential energy.

    Use the following equation to determine change in potential energy:

    \text{change in PE}={final PE}-{initial PE}

    The final number is your change in potential energy.

    Things You'll Need

    • Measuring stick
    • Scale
    • Calculator

Related Articles

How to Use Petrified Wood Energy
How to Calculate the Change in Internal Energy
How to Calculate the Velocity of an Object Dropped...
How to Convert Joules to Grams
How to Calculate E = MC2
How to Calculate Joules of Heat
How the Mass of an Object Affects Its Motion
How to Find Velocity From Mass & Height
Ways to Increase Kinetic Energy
How to Convert Mass to Density
How to Find Kinetic Energy With the Compression of...
How to Calculate the Mass of a Moving Object
How to Calculate Energy Released & Absorbed
How to Calculate Kinetic Energy
How to Convert Amu to Joule
How to Calculate Heat Absorbed by the Solution
How to Determine Square Feet Area
Objects Which Use Pendulum Movement
How to Calculate the Jump Height From Acceleration
How to Calculate Load Force