MS-PS3-2: Potential Energy of the System

Develop a model to describe that when the arrangement of objects interacting at a distance changes, different amounts of potential energy are stored in the system. (Systems and System Models)

Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on relative amounts of potential energy, not on calculations of potential energy. Examples of objects within systems interacting at varying distances could include: the Earth and either a roller coaster cart at varying positions on a hill or objects at varying heights on shelves, changing the direction/orientation of a magnet, and a balloon with static electrical charge being brought closer to a classmate’s hair. Examples of models could include representations, diagrams, pictures, and written descriptions of systems.

Assessment Boundary: Assessment is limited to two objects and electric, magnetic, and gravitational interactions.


The following assessments were created by science teachers hoping to better understand the NGSS. In most cases teachers went from standard to assessment in around an hour.  These are drafts and should be used accordingly. Feel free to improve these assessments or contribute to the collection. Learn more about assessment design here.



Anchor Charts



Potential energy
Interacting stationary objects (e.g. Earth and roller coaster cart, magnets, charged objects)
Forces (electric, magnetic, or gravitational)
Distance between object

Learning Plans

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