Skip to main content
Animating Energy: Stop-Motion Animation and Energy Tracking Representations
The Physics Teacher (2014)
  • Leslie J. Atkins, California State University, Chico
Energy is a topic that is often treated as an accounting process—a number that students are asked to calculate, but that is not particularly meaningful in itself. When we try to ascribe meaning to this number (“an ability to do work,” for example), we are met with caveats and hedges. As Feynman 1 notes when lecturing on the conservation of energy, it “is not a description of a mechanism, or anything concrete; it is just a strange fact that we can calculate some number and when we finish watching nature go through her tricks and calculate the number again, it is the same.” These calculations allow us to infer more meaningful quantities: how fast an object will move, how far it will travel, how compressed it will become, or how hot it will feel. But energy itself, particularly in introductory physics, rarely gives insights into physical problems.
  • energy transfer,
  • magnets,
  • conservation of energy,
  • physics education,
  • cameras
Publication Date
March, 2014
Publisher Statement
For complete list of authors, please see article.
Citation Information
Leslie J. Atkins. "Animating Energy: Stop-Motion Animation and Energy Tracking Representations" The Physics Teacher Vol. 52 Iss. 3 (2014) p. 152 - 156
Available at: