From the classroom, to the Universe

Modeling Activity on the Law of Universal Gravitation

In my desperate effort to my an inch away from traditional lecture method,  I tried to let my students do a modeling  activity on the Universal Law of Gravitation. Good thing PhET Gravity Force lab was available and as well lots of teacher made inquiry / modeling based activity can be reviewed and modified to specific use in class.

Steve Banasiak’s activity on the gravity force lab is one best and I recommend its use. The link of the activity can be found here.

The activity allows them simulate force of gravity between two objects then find the relationships of masses ( mass 1 and 2) to the distance and force of gravity through tables and graphs. Student are asked to find the formula in the relationships and also calculate for the gravitational constant (G).

You can also do differentiated instruction by doing homogenous grouping. Let the advanced group do an activity with less instruction, challenging them to think how to go through with it while have the less advanced group with a more detailed instructions and guide them as they do their work. I find it difficult at first but it really pays off well in the end.

Having them find the formula themselves (and the gravitational constant) is more meaningful than posting it on the board.

I’ll post student responses soon!

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