Open-and-go lessons that inspire kids to love science.

Sign up now for tons of free lessons like this one!

Spaceship Earth Unit
Why is gravity different on other planets?
Scroll for prep
Full Screen
Exit Full Screen

DISCUSS:

What do you think gravity might be like on some of the other planets? (More than Earth? Less than Earth?)

Full Screen
Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Exit Full Screen

DISCUSS (1 of 2):

Take a look at these apple trees. Which way will the apples from each tree fall?

apple trees on Earth

Full Screen
Exit Full Screen

DISCUSS (2 of 2):

If you drew arrows showing which way the apples would fall, would they all point in the same direction? Which way would each arrow point?

apple trees on Earth

Full Screen
Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Exit Full Screen

You've completed the Exploration & Activity!

If you have more time, view the assessment, reading, and extension activity in the extensions.

Full Screen
Exit Full Screen

Extensions

Below are ideas for extending this topic beyond the Exploration and Activity you just completed.
Full Screen
Exit Full Screen

Activity: Asteroid Jump

The Asteroid Jump asks students what would happen if they tried jumping between tiny asteroids in space. Students will need to use their understanding of gravity to find the answer to these imaginary scenarios!

We’ve also provided our best guesses to these fun thought experiments!

Full Screen
Exit Full Screen

Activity: Defying Gravity

Using magnets, paperclips, and string, you can create this simple set-up to explore what happens when the force of magnets is greater than the force of gravity. Invite your students to consider what would happen to this apparatus on other planets. What would be the same? What would be different? What if you changed the strength of the magnets?

Full Screen
Exit Full Screen

Activity: Your Weight on Mars

With this simple online activity from the Exploratorium, students can input their weight to see how much they would weigh on other planets. Your weight changes because the gravitational pull of other planets is different. The more gravity, the more you weigh!

Full Screen
Exit Full Screen

Readings

Readworks and NASA tackle challenging questions in these readings. All the answers relate to gravity, a fundamental force that most of us take for granted.

Full Screen
Exit Full Screen

Video

Full Screen
Exit Full Screen

Image & Video Credits

Mystery Science respects the intellectual property rights of the owners of visual assets. We make every effort to use images and videos under appropriate licenses from the owner or by reaching out to the owner to get explicit permission. If you are the owner of a visual and believe we are using it without permission, please contact us—we will reply promptly and make things right.

Other
3 year old Tydus by Trav and Cor
Apollo 16 Lunar rover "Grand Prix" by NASA HD
Apple falling - close up by Manamatata
Apple falling slow motion by Wavebreak_Video
Apple tree graphic by DreamCreation
Apples by Caliproducties
Apples falling by Olegha
Astronauts falling on the moon by Martian Archaeology
Black chairs by Strekoza64
Earth Vector by Lucky Vector
Earth vector by Lucky Vector
Family throwing leaves and having fun by VIAFilms
Five playful teen girls on a mountain trail by TheStacks
Illustration of a team of astronauts by Lorelyn Medina
Jupiter Moons by Jan Sandberg
Magnet picking up nails by Van_Vog
Mars 2003 by JPL
Mars rover in Buckskin selfie by JPL
NASA Moon tour by NASA Goddard
Neptune by Blue Ring Media
Neptune by NASA Commons
Neptune by BlueRingMedia
Newspaper with breaking headline by Castleski
Pencil by Vitaly Zorkin
Pencil by Vitaly Zorkin
Phobos Colour by Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter
Planet vectors by Anatolir
Planet vectors by Anatolir
Satellite images of earth by Anton Shahrai
Saturn's moon by Dotted Yeti
Science concept fun by Abaget
Sky diving contest by MADConcept
Sticky notes by Kirate
Two black chairs by Strekoza64
Two kitties by Tony Campbell
Two men diving from a springboard by Paha_L
Overview
Grade 5th
Topic Sun, Moon, Stars, & Planets
Focus Gravity
Print Prep
Activity Prep

In this Mystery, students discover that gravity exists on all planets and moons, but the amount of gravity is different because it depends on how massive the object is. In the activity, Gravity Jump, students learn about the gravitational pull of the Earth, the Moon, and other places within our Solar System. Students measure how high they can jump on Earth and then calculate how high they would be able to jump on other planets.

Preview activity

COVID-19 Adaptations
Students can work solo
Digital worksheets available
See our advice below

Students at home
Each student needs 3 Post-Its. Students also need the Gravity Graph, Gravity Jump Data, and Planet & Moon Exploration Stations worksheets (printed or digital).
Students at school
Students can do this activity solo, but they will need to do both roles of Jumper and Ruler. You can use a projector to show the Planet & Moon Exploration Stations to the whole class, or you can print a copy for each student.
Number of students:
Gravity Graph worksheet 30 copies
Gravity Jump Data worksheet 30 copies
Gravity Jump & Gravity Graph Answer Key worksheet 1 copy
Planet & Moon Exploration Stations worksheet 2 copies
Crayons
Or colored pencils.
Details
30 crayons
Rulers
Must have metric centimeter units clearly visible
Details
30 rulers
Post-Its (3")
90 post-its
Prep Instructions

We recommend students work in pairs. If possible, we recommend pairing students of similar heights together. This way, when the students remove the sticky notes from the wall, they should be able to easily reach them. Homeschool students can work on their own.

Decide Where Students Will Jump

Each pair of students needs a blank space (a wall or cabinet) where they can place their sticky notes and measure their jump height. If you have enough space in the classroom this is ideal, but you can also do this in the hallway.

Set up Planet and Moon Exploration Stations Before Class

We recommend printing out two sets of the Planet and Moon Exploration Stations so that a maximum of 4 students are at each station at a time (given a class of 32 students). Each student will only need to visit 4 stations. We suggest placing one set of these stations at opposite ends of the classroom or one station on desk clusters of 4 so that students have the most room to spread out.


Teacher Science Background

We have rounded numbers to simplify the gravitational differences between Earth and other planets and moons. If you or your students are curious, the exact amounts of gravitational pull and how they compare to Earth are listed here:

  • Earth | 9.70 m/s2
  • Moon | 1.62 m/s2 | 5.98 times less gravity than Earth
  • Jupiter | 24.79 m/s2 | 2.55 times more gravity than Earth
  • Mars | 3.71 m/s2 | 2.61 times less gravity than Earth
  • Titan | 1.35 m/s2 | 7.18 times less gravity than Earth
  • Triton | 0.78 m/s2 | 12.43 times less gravity than Earth
  • Neptune | 11.15 m/s2 | 1.15 times more gravity than Earth

Even though they are much larger than Earth, both Jupiter and Neptune are gas planets, which means that they have much lower densities. Uranus is much larger than Earth, but because the density is much less in comparison to Earth’s, the gravitational pull of Uranus is actually less than that of Earth.

Overview
Grade 5th
Topic Sun, Moon, Stars, & Planets
Focus Gravity
Slow internet or video problems?