## Many students think that the force of gravity on an object will increase as it is moved higher, further away from the Earth’s surface

Forces and Motion

Misconception

### Diagnostic Resources

The following worksheets may help to identify whether students hold this particular misconception.

• Gravity gets stronger (11-16)

Source - SPT/ Es01TL07

This activity explores the 'right lines' idea that the force of gravity gets weaker the larger the distance between the objects.

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• Cosmic falling (5-11)

Source - SPT/ Mf01TA06

Here you can explore how the idea of down varies as you move from one planet to another, from one planetary system to another, from one star system to another, or from one galaxy to another. Down depends on the local gravity arrows.

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• Episode 401: Newton's law of universal gravitation (16-19)

Source - TAP/ Fields/ gravitational fields

This episode introduces Newton’s law of universal gravitation for point masses, and for spherical masses, and gets students practising calculations of the force between objects. The meaning of “inverse square law” is discussed.

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## References

The following studies have documented this misconception:

• Watts, D. M. and Zylbersztajn, A. () A survey of some children's ideas about force. Physics Education, 16 (6),

360-365.

This study investigated the conceptions of force of a sample of 125 students aged 14. Data was collected using a multiple-choice-with-explanation questionnaire.
Review sheet

• Osborne, R. () "Building on Children's Intuitive Ideas" in R. Osborne & P. Freyberg (Eds.), Learning in Science. Heinemann, Auckland.

41-51.

• Bliss, J., Ogborn, J. and Whitelock, D. () Secondary school pupils' commonsense theories of motion. International Journal of Science Education, 11 (3),

263-272.

This study aimed to expose and empirically test the 'commonsense theory of motion' developed by Jon Ogborn in a sample of 29 students aged 11-18 from two English comprehensive schools. Participants understanding of motion was tested by asking them to describe and explain a sequence of 'comics' depicting physical situations.
Review sheet