Science Experiments for Kids: Learning About Gravity

Up, Up, and Away: Fun and Easy Gravity Experiments for Kids

Amaze your friends and family with a science show. Ask your audience to predict the outcome of each of these easy science experiments about gravity.

All objects on Earth are pulled toward the planet’s center by the force of gravity. Gravity is the force that makes a basketball swish through a hoop. Gravity is the force that makes your glass of juice crash to the floor when it slips out of your hand. Gravity is the force that keeps your feet on the ground when you go for a walk. As Judy Breckenridge points out in Simple Physics Experiments with Everyday Materials, “Without gravity we would all float off into outer space.” Hooray for gravity!

In this post, we will share some of the best gravity experiments that you can do with your kids, using everyday materials that you can find at home. From balloon rockets to pendulum painting, these experiments will keep your kids entertained and educated all at once. Get ready to inspire your little ones with the wonder of science!

Quick Introduction to Gravity

Gravity is the force by which a planet or other body draws objects toward its center. The force of gravity keeps all of the planets in orbit around the sun. Earth’s gravity is what keeps you on the ground and what makes things fall. It’s what holds the atmosphere in place so we can breathe and it’s what allows us to use rockets to launch into space.

Gravity is a fundamental force of nature that is present everywhere in the universe. It is what gives objects weight and is responsible for the motion of planets, stars, and galaxies. Without gravity, the universe as we know it would not exist.

Understanding the basics of gravity is important for many areas of science, including physics, astronomy, and engineering. By conducting simple gravity experiments, kids can learn about this fascinating force of nature in a fun and engaging way. From exploring how gravity affects different objects to create their own mini-gravity wells, there are many exciting experiments that kids can do to learn more about this fundamental force.

Science Experiment: Dropping objects of different weights

Experiment 1: Dropping objects of different weights is a classic gravity experiment that teaches kids about mass and gravity. All you need for this experiment are a few objects of different weights, like a feather, a rock, and a rubber ball, and a place to drop them from, like a balcony or a staircase.

Start by asking your child what they think will happen when they drop each object. Will the heavier object fall faster or slower than the lighter object? Then, drop each object one by one and observe what happens.

gravity experiments kids
no gravity? Photo by RickMídias on Pixabay

You’ll find that all objects fall at the same rate, regardless of their weight. This is because gravity pulls all objects towards the earth at the same acceleration rate, which is 9.8 meters per second squared. You can explain this to your child by saying that the earth’s gravity pulls all objects towards it with the same force, so they all fall at the same rate.

You can also ask your child to try dropping the objects from different heights and see if that affects the way they fall. This will give them a better understanding of how gravity works and how it affects objects. This experiment is a great way to introduce your child to science and to help them understand the world around them.

Science Experiment: Making a gravity well

A gravity well is a concept that is used to represent the way gravity affects the path of objects in space. In this experiment, your child will learn how gravity works by creating a visual representation of a gravity well.

Materials needed:

  • A large, flat container (such as a baking tray)
  • Flour
  • A small ball (such as a marble)
  • Food coloring (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Pour a thin layer of flour into the flat container, making sure it covers the entire surface.
  2. Place the small ball in the center of the container.
  3. If desired, add a few drops of food coloring to the flour around the ball.
  4. Use your fingers to gently press down on the flour around the ball, creating a depression in the flour. The depression should be deepest around the ball and gradually become shallower as you move away from the ball.
  5. Observe how the ball remains in the center of the depression you created in the flour. This is because the flour represents the fabric of space-time and the ball is pulled towards the center by the force of gravity.
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To take the experiment further, you can try adding more balls to the container and observe how they behave differently depending on their mass and distance from the center of gravity well. This experiment is a great way to introduce your child to the fascinating concept of gravity and spark their curiosity about the world around them.

Science Experiment: Magnets to simulate gravity

Using magnets to simulate gravitational pull can be a fun and interactive way to teach kids about gravity. In this experiment, you’ll need a few simple materials such as a magnet, paper clips, and a thin piece of string.

First, tie the string to the magnet and then attach a few paper clips to the other end of the string. Next, hold the magnet above one of the paper clips and release it. You’ll notice that the paper clip is attracted to the magnet and will follow it as it falls. This is similar to how gravity works, as objects with more mass are attracted to each other.

You can also use this experiment to show how different objects with varying masses will be affected by gravity. Try attaching different objects to the string, such as a feather, a coin, and a small toy car. You’ll notice that the magnet has a stronger pull on the coin and car due to their greater mass, while the feather will not be affected as much because it has less mass.

This experiment is a great way to introduce kids to the concept of gravity in a fun and interactive way. It can also be a starting point for further discussions about the laws of physics and the universe around us.

Science Experiment: Making a simple pendulum

Making a simple pendulum is a fun and easy way to learn about gravity and motion. For this experiment, you will need a few simple materials:

  • A piece of string or thread
  • A small weight, such as a paperclip or washer
  • A sturdy surface to attach the string

To make your pendulum, tie the string around your weight and attach the other end to your sturdy surface. You can use a table, a chair, or any other surface that won’t move around too much.

Once your pendulum is set up, give it a gentle push to set it swinging. Watch how it moves back and forth, and notice how the speed and direction of the pendulum change.

To make your experiment even more fun, try changing the length of the string or the weight of the pendulum. How does this affect the way the pendulum moves? Can you predict how the pendulum will behave based on these changes?

Making a simple pendulum is a great way to introduce kids to the concept of gravity and motion. Plus, it’s a fun and easy experiment that can be done with materials you probably already have at home.

Science Experiment: Gravity and Air Resistance

Before performing this experiment, show your audience a shoe and a flat piece of notebook or copy paper. Explain that you will be dropping both objects from the same height. Then ask your audience these questions:

  • Who thinks the shoe will hit the floor first?
  • Who thinks the paper will hit the floor first?
  • Who thinks both objects will hit the floor at the same time?

Experiment:

  1. Hold the shoe in one hand and the paper in the other.
  2. Hold both objects high in front of you at equal heights.
  3. Release both objects at the same time.

Observation: The shoe hits the floor first.

Explanation: Because of the paper’s shape, its fall is slowed by air pushing up against its under-surface – this slowing effect is called air resistance.

Science Experiment: Effect of Gravity on Plant Growth

One of the most interesting aspects of gravity is its effect on living organisms. In this experiment, we’ll be looking at how gravity affects plant growth.

To start, you’ll need to gather some materials. You’ll need:

  • 2 identical plants
  • 2 identical pots
  • soil
  • water
  • a ruler

Experiment:

  1. Begin by filling both pots with soil and planting one of your plants in each pot.
  2. Water them both thoroughly and place them side by side in a sunny location.
  3. Now comes the fun part. Take one of the pots and place it on its side. This will cause the plant inside to be growing at a 90-degree angle to the ground. Leave the other pot standing upright.
  4. Over the next few weeks, observe the growth of both plants. Measure their height using the ruler and take note of any other differences you can see.
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What you should find is that the plant growing at a 90-degree angle to the ground will grow differently than the plant growing upright. This is because gravity plays an important role in how plants grow. The plant growing on its side will have to work harder to grow against the pull of gravity, resulting in a different growth pattern than the one growing normally.

This experiment is a great way to teach kids about the effects of gravity on living organisms and can lead to further discussions about how gravity affects everything from trees to humans. Have fun experimenting!

Science Experiment: Gravity and Weight

Before performing this experiment, show your audience the shoe and the piece of paper crumpled into a ball. Explain that you will be dropping both objects from the same height. Then ask your audience these questions:

  • Who thinks the shoe will hit the floor first?
  • Who thinks the paper ball will hit the floor first?
  • Who thinks both objects will hit the floor at the same time?

Experiment:

  1. Hold the shoe in one hand and the paper ball in the other.
  2. Hold both objects high in front of you at equal heights.
  3. Release both objects at the same time.

Observation: The shoe and the paper ball hit the floor at the same time.

Explanation: Even though the earth exerts more pull on a heavier object, a lighter object experiences a greater degree of acceleration, meaning that it moves at a greater speed. Consequently, objects of different weights fall at the same rate when other forces such as air resistance are not a factor.

Science Experiment: Center of Gravity

Now it’s time for audience participation in your science show. Ask for volunteers for each of these exercises involving the center of gravity:

Pick up a penny

Ask a volunteer to stand against a wall with his feet together, heels pressed against the wall. Place a penny about one foot away on the floor in front of him. Ask him to pick up the penny without moving his feet or bending his knees. Can he do it?

Lift your left foot

Ask a volunteer to stand with her right side against a wall, pressing her right foot and cheek against it. Instruct her to lift her left foot off the floor. Can she do it?

Jump forward

Ask a volunteer to bend forward and grab his toes, keeping his knees slightly bent. Tell him to jump forward without letting go of his toes. Can he do it?

Stand up

Ask a volunteer to sit in a straight-backed chair. Tell her to keep her back straight, her feet flat on the floor, and her arms folded across her chest. Then ask her to stand up. Can she do it?

Observation: Because all of these tasks restrict the center of gravity, it’s almost impossible for a person to perform any of them.

Explanation: As far as gravity is concerned, the weight of an object is concentrated at a single center point. The center of gravity for an object with a regular shape – the Earth, for example – is located at its geometric center. However, in irregularly shaped objects – the human body, for instance – the center of gravity moves around. If you try to shift too far away from your center of gravity, you’ll lose your balance.

Share Fun Science Experiments With Family and Friends

Learning new things about the world around you is fun and exciting. It’s even more fun when you share your discoveries with your family and friends. Gravity is just one of the interesting forces of nature – there are many more to explore and share.

Final thoughts on teaching kids about gravity

Gravity is a fascinating concept that has been studied and explored by scientists for centuries. Teaching kids about gravity can be a fun and engaging way to introduce them to the wonders of science and the natural world around them.

By conducting simple experiments and activities, kids can learn about the basic principles of gravity and how it affects the world around us. From dropping objects of different weights to observing how objects fall at the same rate, there are endless ways to explore this fascinating force.

Not only can teaching kids about gravity be fun, but it can also help to develop their critical thinking skills, problem-solving abilities, and scientific knowledge. By encouraging kids to ask questions and explore the world around them, we can inspire a love of learning and an appreciation for science that can last a lifetime.

Teaching kids about gravity can be a fun and rewarding experience for both children and adults alike. By providing opportunities for hands-on exploration and discovery, we can help kids develop a lifelong love of science and learning. So, let’s get started and see where the wonders of gravity take us!

Sources:

  • Bardhan-Quallen, Sudipta. Championship Science Fair Projects. NY: Sterling Publishing, 2004.
  • Breckenridge, Judy. Simple Physics Experiments with Everyday Materials. NY: Sterling Publishing, 1993.
  • Cobb, Vicki. Bet You Can’t! NY: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Books, 1980.

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