Reflection: Checks for Understanding Recreating Galileo's Leaning Tower of Pisa Investigation - Section 3: Explore


While the focus of this investigation is to learn how to use the Scientific Method to conduct and investigation involving gravity, many students began trying to explain why the tennis ball and styrofoam ball dropped at the same time: Gravitational Pull Misconception.

I'll want to address the misconception that the tennis ball and styrofoam ball experience the same pull of gravity very carefully as this can turn into a high school level conversation quickly! I always want to find an equal balance between challenging content and grade level appropriateness. 

At this link, The Physics Classroom explains this concept clearly (below). I just hope I can find a way to make this more clear to my 5th graders! 

  • "We must recall Newton's second law - the law of acceleration. Newton's second law states that the acceleration of an object is directly related to the net force and inversely related to its mass. When figuring the acceleration of object, there are two factors to consider - force and mass." 
  • "Applied to the elephant-feather scenario, we can say that the elephant experiences a much greater force (which tends to produce large accelerations. Yet, the mass of an object resists acceleration." 
  • "Thus, the greater mass of the elephant (which tends to produce small accelerations) offsets the influence of the greater force. It is the force/mass ratio which determines the acceleration."
  • "Even though a baby elephant may experience 100 000 times the force of a feather, it has 100 000 times the mass." 
  • "The greater mass of the elephant requires the greater force just to maintain the same acceleration as the feather."
  • "When the only force is gravity, the acceleration is the same value for all objects. On Earth, this acceleration value is 9.8 m/s/s. This is such an important value in physics that it is given a special name - the acceleration of gravity - and a special symbol - g."

  Checks for Understanding: Misconception
Loading resource...

Recreating Galileo's Leaning Tower of Pisa Investigation

Unit 1: Gravity
Lesson 5 of 19

Objective: SWBAT explain the rate at which heavy and light objects fall.

Big Idea: In this lesson, students will use the Scientific Method to test the rates at which a tennis ball and a plastic ball fall to Earth.

  Print Lesson
21 teachers like this lesson
Science, Galileo, acceleration, gravity, mass
  60 minutes
studnet with balls
Similar Lessons
Day One of Plaid Pete is Going Down!
5th Grade Science » Plaid Pete is Finding Earth's Place in the Universe
Big Idea: What is gravity? Students engage in investigations that lead them to understand the force of gravity on Earth.
Lynden, WA
Environment: Rural
Amy Miller
How do we stay on the Earth?
5th Grade Science » Gravity
Big Idea: The concept of gravity has many components and student are always curious about why we are able to stay "grounded".
Thousand Oaks, CA
Environment: Suburban
Jennifer Mutch
Part 1- The Structure Of Our Solar System
5th Grade Science » Out Of This World- A Journey Through Our Solar System
Big Idea: Students will create a scale model of the solar system to distinguish the distance of each planet from the sun.
Fitchburg, MA
Environment: Urban
Carrie Boyden
Something went wrong. See details for more info
Nothing to upload