Created on: October 26, 2010

Website Address: https://library.curriki.org/oer/Gravitation-astronomy-lessons-

TABLE OF CONTENTS

- Gravity pre and post test
- Quantifying The Force of Gravity at the Earth’s Surface (Lab)
- Student Activity: Light Intensity & Distance
- Gravity throughout the solar system
- Cavendish's Experiment and the Determination of G
- Marbles in orbit: student lab
- My solar system simulation
- Gravity, Newton’s Third Law, and Falling
- Background reading: moving in circles
- Important Physics Concepts
- Hands on Universe, Lawrence Hall of Science, University of California, Berkeley

This collection of gravitation lessons were developed by Dr. Carl Pennypacker and his colleagues at UC Berkeley to use with middle and high school students.

A pre and post test on gravitation and orbital motion.

Students will perform a simple lab involving the use of a spring scale and various masses to determine the strength of the gravitational field strength at the surface of the earth (9.8N/Kg). The influence of varying mass on the strength of gravitational forces is explored as one step toward the ultimate goal of constructing Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation. Follow up activities will provide the opportunity to explore the exact influence of distance on gravitational forces and to calculate the value of the Gravitational Constant, G.

In this student activity students will determine how light intensity from a point source changes as you move farther from the light source. They will relate the patterns observed in the spreading of light to the patterns observed in the “spread” of gravity’s influence into space and develop a general mathematical understanding of how gravity’s influence changes as you increase the distance between two masses.

Questions for students to think about and answer.

This lesson explains Cavendish's experiment and the determination of G.

Can we predict the direction the Moon would travel if the force of the gravity were to suddenly disappear?

The orbital simulator is one of many simulations available on the PhET project out of the University of Colorado. The web site is http://phet.colorado.edu. These simulations can be run online or can be downloaded and opened in a browser that is running offline. The simulation we are using is called My Solar System.

An explanation of Newton's third law.

An article that reinforces the concept of objects that move in circles.

A list of important physics concepts to review.

Hands-On Universe™ (HOU) is an educational program that enables students to investigate the Universe while applying tools and concepts from science, math, and technology. Using the Internet, HOU participants around the world request observations from an automated telescope, download images from a large image archive, and analyze them with the aid of user-friendly image processing software.