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The Great Gravity Escape

Groups simulate an orbit using a piece of string and a water balloon. Individuals spin in a circular path and calculate the balloon's velocity when the clothes pin can no longer hold onto the balloon.

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CCSS: Designed
NGSS: Designed
Instructional Ideas

  • For grade levels that know the circumference formula, modify the worksheet to have the pupils fill in that information
  • Use different radii to determine if the escape velocity changes based upon the distance from the center
Classroom Considerations

  • To perform the activity, you will need a large open area where it is okay if things get wet 
  • The ninth installment in a 13-part series
Pros

  • The activity plan has assessments that occur before, during, and after the activity
  • The introduction provides a good connection between the activity and the application of orbits in space exploration
Cons

  • The activity is a close simulation, though it does not mimic the fact that as velocity increases, the size of the orbit gets larger
Common Core

Included Materials

  • Orbiting Water Balloons
  • Worksheet

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Roy H.
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Roy H., Teacher
Alexandria, VA