Why is gravity different on other planets?

Why is gravity different on other planets?

Lesson narration:
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DISCUSS:

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

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DISCUSS (1 of 2):

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

apple trees on Earth

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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

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Extensions

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

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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?

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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!

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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.

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Video

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Image & Video Credits

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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
Lesson narration:

Activity Prep

Print Prep

In this lesson, 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 measure how high they can jump on Earth and then calculate how high they would be able to jump on other planets and moons within our Solar System.

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.

Exploration

5 mins

Wrap-Up

10 mins

Extend this lesson

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