# Gravity Lesson Plans

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1 Gravity Lesson Plans Shirley Story T. H. Bell Jr. High 165 W S Washington Terrace, UT Eighth Grade Integrated Science Standard IV : Students will understand the relationships among energy, force, and motion. Objective 2: Examine the forces exerted on objects by gravity. a. Distinguish between mass and weight. b. Cite examples of how Earth s gravitational force on an object depends upon the mass of the object. Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs) 1. Use Science Process and Thinking Skills a. Observe objects for patterns and record both qualitative and quantitative information. e. When given a problem, plan and conduct experiments in which they Plan procedures to control independent variable Analyze data and construct reasonable conclusions 4. Communicate Effectively Using Science Language and Reasoning. a. Provide relevant data to support their inferences and conclusions. b. Use mathematical reasoning to communicate information. Time Needed to Complete Inquiry: 3 days Inquiry: What is the relationship between the mass of an object and the gravitational force it exerts? (Confirmation) What is the relationship between distance and the force of gravity? (Structured Inquiry) What is the best way to construct a beam that will support the greatest load? (Guided Inquiry) Prior Knowledge Needed: Students should be aware of the difference between a spring scale and a balance. Materials/ Resources Needed for the Investigations: What s Pulling On Me? Activity: Printed worksheets Calculators Paper Beam Activity: 10 sheets 8 ½ X 11 paper for each student or group 1 meter masking tape for each student or group 2 tables or desks weights and device to hang below or on the constructed beams Procedures of the Investigation: What s Pulling On Me: 1. Hand out the worksheets and calculators and have the students calculate the desired information for the data tables. They should then evaluate the information and make conclusions based on the data. 2. After the students have completed the first worksheet, discuss the calculations they have made and make certain they understand what mass and weight are. They should also understand that the mass of objects remains constant, but weight will change and depends on the mass of the object exerting a force on them. Also after completing the first worksheet, discuss with the students that they used data to infer (in this case, extrapolate) that their body (and anything with mass) also contains and exerts a gravitational force. 3. For the second worksheet, have the students work in small groups to develop their data table, graph, and interpretation. Have the groups present their data table, graph and interpretation to the rest of the class. As a class discuss the merits of the different data tables, graphs, and interpretations. Using formative assessment techniques, help guide students to the consensus that gravitational force decreases with distance.

2 Sample Data Table for Janet s Experiment Location Distance from the Janet s Weight Janet s Mass center of the Earth Sea Level 6378 km N 50 kg Salt Lake City 6379 km N 50 kg Top of Everest 6387 km N 50 kg In a jetliner 6389 km N 50 kg Paper Beam: Project Description: This project can be done individually, in pairs, or in groups. The object is for the students to construct a beam made only of paper and tape. The beam should be 72 cm long. Weight will be hung from the beam to see how it will hold before breaking. Before construction of the bridge, students should experiment with the strength of various shapes- circles, triangles, squares. Explain to the students that you will be placing two desks so that they are 50 cm apart. The beam will span this opening and objects (weights) can be hung on the beam until it breaks. I use a weight hanger suspended from the beam and put weights on the hanger until the beam breaks. Then have the students construct the beam using 10 sheets of 8 ½ x 11 paper and 1 meter of masking tape. Once the beams are built, begin testing the strength of them. Data Analysis: As the beams are brought up and placed on the table, students explain how the beam was constructed. As the testing proceeds they look for the areas where the beam is showing stress and where they would reinforce the beam. You should discuss the affect gravity is having on the beam and how beams and bridges are constructed to overcome the effects of gravity. Once all the beams have been tested, have the students construct another beam with the knowledge they have gained and then test the 2 nd beams. Assessment: Teachers should be constantly using formative assessment to judge the students understanding. An excellent time is when the students present their data tables and interpretations during the second part of What s Pulling On Me?

4 1. Does your weight change if you were to travel to Jupiter? 2. If you traveled to Jupiter, would the amount of matter in your body change? Why or why not? 3. Would your mass change if you went to Jupiter? Why or why not? What would be your mass on Jupiter? 4. After looking at the table above, what conclusion can you make about what affects the force of gravity (your weight) when you travel to different planets? Precisely explain any relationship you see. 5. Based on your analysis in #4 above, do you think (infer) that your body also contains and exerts a gravitational force? Explain why or why not.

5 What s Pulling On Me? Part 2 The Tales of Janet the Globe-Trotter Janet lives in San Francisco (which is 6,378 km from the center of the Earth). Using a spring scale she discovered her weight was N. She was able to find a large balance. Janet discovered that when a 50 kg mass was placed on one side of the balance, and she climbed on the other side, it was in perfect balance. Janet traveled to Salt Lake City (which is 6,380 km from the center of the Earth) to visit her grandmother. While there she decided to do the same experiment she had done at home. Using the same spring scale again, she discovered that she weighed N. Once again she found a large balance and when she climbed on it a 50 kg of mass was placed on the other side and it balanced. Janet had a friend in Nepal that she spent the summer with. Mt. Everest is in Nepal and is 6,387 km from the center of the Earth. After much huffing and puffing, Janet and her friend climbed to the top of Mt. Everest. Once again she decided to repeat her experiment and discovered that on the spring scale on the top of Mt. Everest she weighed N. She and her friend made a teetertotter balance and discovered that once again a 50 kg mass on the other side would let her balance. In the jetliner on the way home, she decided to try her experiment once again. The plane was 6,389 km from the center of the Earth. Janet talked with the flight attendant and she was able to find a balance for Janet to use. Using the spring scale, Janet found her weight to be N. A 50 kg mass placed on the balance on the side opposite her was able to balance the scale. Janet took all the information she had gathered from her experimentation and put it into a data table to see what she had learned. 1. Besides the change of location (e.g., Salt Lake City), what was the manipulated (independent) variable in Janet s experiment? 2. What was the responding (dependent) variable in Janet s experiment? 3. What things did Janet have to keep constant to make her experiment accurate? 4. Create a data table that displays all the information Janet collected during her experiment.

6 5. Create a graph that displays the information Janet collected. 6. What conclusion can you make about what affects the force of gravity from the information Janet gathered? 7. Predict what would happen to your weight if you were in a spaceship hovering 100 km above the surface of the Earth. 8. Predict what would happen to your weight if you were 100 km below the surface of the Earth. 9. Based on your understanding of how a balance works, predict what the mass readings would be if Janet were 100 km above the surface of the Earth and 100 km below its surface.

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