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Science

Forces and elasticity

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Forces may change the shape of an object. An elastic object such as a spring stores elastic potential energy when stretched or squashed. The extension of an elastic object is directly proportional to the force applied.

Elastic potential energy

A catapult stores elastic energy

A force [force: A push or a pull. The unit of force is the newton, 'N'. ] acting on an object may cause the shape of an object to change. Elastic objects can store elastic potential energy if they are stretched. For example, this happens when a catapult is used.

Changing shape

A squash ball falls and deforms as it hits the floor

Elastic objects can also store elastic potential energy when they are squashed. For example, this happens when a squash ball is dropped onto a hard surface.

Work [work: Energy transferred by a force. Work done = force x distance moved in the direction of the force. ] is done on an elastic object when its shape changes and it stores elastic potential energy. It is possible to calculate the amount of energy stored when stretching or squashing an elastic material, but you do not need to be able to do this for your examination.

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