Orbital Velocity Interactive

Why does it take Pluto 90,000 days to orbit the sun, but it only takes Mercury 88 days? An interactive lesson helps pupils find a connection between the speed of orbit and distance a planet is from the sun. The simulation allows for changes in the mass of the sun and the orbital radius.

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Instructional Ideas
  • Create an interdisciplinary lesson with mathematics by creating equations to model the changes in velocity
  • Turn your classroom into a solar system and use students moving at different rates to represent the orbiting planets
Classroom Considerations
  • Requires laptops with Internet access
  • Includes background information to help introduce the interactive
  • Shows the calculation the program uses when finding the orbital velocity
  • None