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All about energy

Energy can be explained as the ability to make something work. Just like you need energy to get out of bed, objects need energy to keep moving about.

Where does energy come from?

We get most of our energy for regular household functions from something called fossil fuels – these include oil, natural gas and coal. They’re called fossil fuels because they were formed over millions of years by a combination of heat from the Earth’s core, and the pressure from rock and soil pressing on the remains (or fossils) of dead plants and animals.

What is kinetic energy?

The energy that is always in storage just waiting to be used is called potential energy. Many things start with potential energy and once they begin to move, the energy becomes kinetic. So kinetic energy is the energy being used when something is in motion. For example, flowing water is an example of kinetic energy.

Great energy discoveries

Energy has always been around, since long before people could even read or write. Somewhere along the line, humans learnt how to use energy to help with daily activities. When our ancestors discovered fire, they started using it for cooking, staying warm and even scaring away wild animals. The discovery of fire was civilisation’s first great energy discovery. Other great discoveries include:

  1. The Earth’s magnetic field was discovered by the Chinese about 2 000 years ago, but in 1600, William Gilbert published a paper that proved this was true.
  2. Gravity was discovered in 1687 by Isaac Newton.

Lightbulb moment

Electricity is energy. In the same way as you eat a Spur Cheddamelt Burger and drink a glass of orange juice to keep you going, machines and gadgets “eat” electricity to keep them going. In your home, electricity runs the lights, the toaster, the television and even some of your toys. It’s hard to imagine life without it.

Save, save, save!

Using electricity is putting a huge strain on our planet, so always remember to:

  • Switch off the lights when you don’t need them.
  • Switch off electrical appliances such as computers and televisions when you’re not using them.
  • Encourage your parents to look at solar-powered energy for your home.
  • Ask an adult to lower the thermostat setting on your home’s geyser or install a timer.
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