Amazing Kids! Magazine

Sci-Tech Kids – Different Forms of Energy

By Paul Ngu, Amazing Kids Adventures and Global Village Column Editor

Every day people depend on energy for their daily functions and routines. We use energy when we heat up a can of soup for lunch or when we drive a car to go to school. The different forms of energy can be grouped into two categories: potential and kinetic energy. Although the terms may be complex, all it means is that our examples of energy like lightning and solar energy can be grouped into these types of energy.

The question is where do these types of energy come from? Most agree that there are two sources for all types of energy: renewable and nonrenewable energy. In looking into a future city, we can envision the many possibilities of where our energy can come from. While historically people have depended on coal, petroleum, and natural gas for their main source of energy, new sources of energy are being explored because of their unique benefits they offer for the environment and the world. For example, solar energy is a wonderful source of energy because it is a renewable source of energy (the sun will not disappear in the near future!). Because the environment is not hurt from solar energy, both human beings and nature can benefit from solar energy. One example of utilizing solar energy is through solar panels, which absorbs the sun’s light energy and converts it into electricity for our everyday uses.

If an area isn’t geographically in a place that receives much sun year round, there are still other sources of energy that people can look into. If a city or area commonly faces strong winds, the use of wind energy may be beneficial. Unlike coal and petroleum which will eventually run out, wind energy is an inexhaustible source of energy. In addition, wind energy does not pollute the environment, which makes it an even more viable option when looking into sources of energy for the future. One example of using wind energy is through wind turbines, which you may have seen in remote farm areas that receive a lot of wind daily.

One last example of the sources of energy people can use is geothermal energy. Geothermal energy deals with the thermal energy located within the Earth. For example, the heat found below the Earth’s crust, such as hot water, provides a large amount of energy if it can be correctly captured and utilized. Although geothermal energy in the United States accounts for a small percentage of the energy we use, with future technology and resources, we can begin to consider geothermal energy as a serious source of energy. One factor that prevents the use of geothermal energy from being a major source of energy is the cost and risks involved in being able to go deep within the Earth’s crust to capture energy. Hopefully, scientists and engineers will be able to develop more cost efficient facilities that will be able to take advantage of the limitless geothermal energy located right here in the Earth.

The future for the world holds many exciting possibilities and opportunities to explore in the realm of energy. The less dependent people are on nonrenewable energy sources like coal and petroleum, the better it will be for the environment and for the world in general. Although the nature of the newer and untapped sources of energy tends to involve high costs, with better technology and resources, scientists hope to be able to develop better and more cost efficient methods to tap into our energy sources.