What I learned about energy is that it is a quantity that can produce change. The amount of energy in something is always unchanged but can be moved around and transfered. There are many mechanisms for storing energy but the ones we learned about were elastic, kinetic, and gravitational potential. Elastic is the kind in a spring or a rubber band. Kinetic is the kind of energy when an object is moving, and gravitational potential is the energy when an object can fall from a certain height. Energy can be transfered between these types by either working, heating, or using electromagnetic radiation. We only did problems with working but I still learned much about energy.
What I have found most difficult about what I have studied is differentiating between what kind of energy is present. Sometimes it's hard to tell if an object has potential or kinetic, and its even harder to put it into an equation. Overall though I was able to conquer this problem and understand what equations to use when what energy is present.
My problem solving skill after this unit have increased because it was a real challenge to deal with a whole new type of problem. These didn't use FBD's for the most part which threw me off and confused me after last unit. However, using my problem solving skills I believe that I have overcome this making those skills better.
One connection I can make between what we have studied and the real world is when a person is skateboarding on a vert ramp. When someone rides these giant ramps you cannot push for fear of falling off which means that the only way you get speed is through energy. When you drop in to the ramp, your potential energy of being around 10 feet in the air is converted into kinetic energy as you gain speed down the ramp. This kinetic energy is then converted back into potential energy when you exit the other side of the ramp and stop in the air. But then you come back down converting the energy back into kinetic. This process continues and shows how what we have learned can be applied to real life. Responding to comments: One suggestion I got in my comments was to talk about how energy is dissipated on a vert ramp. However, this does not happen as one might think. You would think that once you dropped into the ramp your speed would slowly decrease until you could not launch off the side of the ramp anymore and slow to a stop. However, this is not the case. When riding on a vert ramp skaters keep the same speed and even through a process called pumping which is very difficult to do. Skaters use perfect timing and pressure on the board to make them gain speed on a ramp and not have to have a dissipating energy.