Reflection: Gradual Release What Does Gravity Have to Do With Weight and Mass? - Section 3: Explore


Create an Orbital Model

To help students understand how the sun’s gravitational pull affects planets and their orbit, I begin with a demonstration using an orbital model.  I hold up the orbital model and point out that the straw represents the Sun and the washers represent a planet. While holding the model vertically, I extend my arm out completely away from my body. Next, I hold the washer closest to me; I rotate the orbital model in a circular motion. While this is happening the second begins to revolve in a circular motion. Finally, I use my other hand to slowly pull on the washer closest to me, causing the other washer to revolve faster and shorten its orbital area. To further develop students’ understanding, I hand out each group a model and have them try it.

To make an orbital model, need a straw, a piece of string about 18-24 inches long, two rubber washers of equal size. First, tie one end of the string to one washer.  Next, feed the string through the straw until it comes out the other side.  Then, tie the end to the second washer. Finally, have students practice in area away from others for safety reasons.

  Create an Orbital Model
  Gradual Release: Create an Orbital Model
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What Does Gravity Have to Do With Weight and Mass?

Unit 6: Forces and Motions
Lesson 1 of 8

Objective: SWBAT recognize the relationship between weight, mass, and gravity.

Big Idea: Students will use each planet's gravity to calculate their weight and how far they can jump each planet.

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calculations of jumps
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