Day 97: A Pretty Awesome Energy Demonstration

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For a couple of years now I’ve been dropping a shot-put on silly putty to show that the kinetic energy of the shot transfers to the putty in the form of thermal energy, as measured by an increase in temperature. I wrap a Vernier temperature probe in silly putty, start data collection, and drop the shot. I usually see a 0.1 or 0.2 degree C increase in the temp, nothing too serious but it definitely gets the point across. This year I took it a bit further by scaling up to a bowling ball dropped from half a meter or so. I fully expected to break the probe, in the name of science of course, but it actually survived two drops. Even cooler was a full 1 degree C increase in the temp of the silly putty! It was also impressive when the putty (it’s actually magnetic silly putty I made in a workshop a while back) shattered pretty seriously on impact.

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3 Comments on “Day 97: A Pretty Awesome Energy Demonstration”

  1. Matt says:

    Awesome, I now have some temperature probes with very short, painful lives ahead of them…. thanks for the idea!

  2. […] trouble with that distinction despite starting ETM ‘traditionally.’ Both classes saw this demonstration (video here) to show that kinetic energy certainly does, often, transfer to thermal energy. The […]

  3. […] me to suggest that we could ignore E_therm. However, this is tempered with the fact that I do a demonstration showing that kinetic energy transfers to thermal energy in collisions (a couple weeks prior) and […]


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