Orbiting Marbles

This Orbiting Marbles activity & project also includes:

Using easily obtained materials, physical science beginners are exposed to Newton's first law of motion. They see that a marble will roll in a straight line unless something forces it to change directions, in this case, the rim of a paper plate. Be aware that for older learners, the comparison of this motion to the orbit of the space shuttle is inaccurate since a push keeps the marble in circular motion, whereas orbit is caused by gravitational pull.

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Pros

  • Clearly demonstrates that an external force must occur to prevent the marble from rolling in a straight line
  • A sufficient introduction to Newton's first law of motion
Cons

  • Could lead to a confusion of push versus pull for younger learners