Forces and gravity
Is gravity real or does the Earth just suck?
Supports National Curriculum Key Stage 2, Units 1E, 2E, 4E and 6E (view Irish curriculum links)
Suitable for: Years 4, 5 and 6
The time for whole session is about 2 hours. This can be varied by taking shorter paths through the material. Choices may depend on the apparatus available or the particular needs of the class.
Outline of content
- Establish what the children already know, using demos and class experiments
- Provide the children with a clear idea of what a force is
- Relate movement to forces
- Explain that gravity and weight are forces
- Establish that forces can be measured and teach them to estimate the size of forces
- Represent forces with arrows
- The forces are balanced on objects falling steadily
- Teach that there is a force of gravity on the Moon but it is much smaller than on Earth
- Teach that the planets orbit the Sun because of gravity
- Excite the children’s interest
- The slides in the PowerPoint presentation (1.5 MB) are referenced in the table.
- As the presentation may be running throughout the session some simple slides provide a suitable background, alternatively switch to a black screen.
- Apparatus details are linked to the relevant sections.
- Notes about safety are included with the actitivties.
- Vocabulary: The presentation uses expressions included in the KS1 and 2 strategies
Misconceptions to be corrected
- There is no gravity in space
- The Moon does not have a gravitational field
- Heavy objects fall faster than light objects
- All objects are ‘weightless’ in space
Feedback from the trials:
"I found that it was important to spend time on the very basic ideas of forces. They learned a lot from the games and these lead into discussions which I encouraged so that they could gain a clear understanding. Teachers, in each school, commented that their own understanding had been clarified".