Lesson Plan: Gravitational Potential Energy Physics

This lesson plan includes the objectives, prerequisites, and exclusions of the lesson teaching students how to calculate changes in the energy of an object in a gravitational field using the definition of the gravitational potential energy, 𝐸 = 𝑚𝘨𝘩.


Students will be able to

  • define a change in gravitational potential energy as the work done on an object by the force of gravity,
  • apply the formula gravitational potential energy ()=𝑚𝑔GPE to find any of the terms in the formula,
  • recall that 𝑚𝑔=(𝑊)weight and deduce that GPE=𝑊.


Students should already be familiar with

  • the principle of conservation of energy treated qualitatively,
  • work = force × distance,
  • weight = mass × acceleration due to gravity.


Students will not cover

  • any motion of Earth due to its gravitational attraction to an object at some distance from it.
  • the internal structure of Earth,
  • reference points.

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