Newton's Law of Gravitation
Earth and Space

Things you'll need to decide on as you plan: Gravity and Space

Teaching Guidance for 11-14 Supporting Physics Teaching

Bringing together two sets of constraints

Focusing on the learners:

Distinguishing–eliciting–connecting. How to:

  • emphasise that the pull of gravity depends on the environment
  • keep separate the effects of atmosphere and the pull of gravity
  • establish gravity as a universal force, occurring everywhere
  • establish gravity as a universal force, acting on stationary and moving objects
  • use the term force of gravity consistently
  • connect interactions on this Earth with those occurring elsewhere in the universe

Teacher Tip: These are all related to findings about children's ideas from research. The teaching activities will provide some suggestions. So will colleagues, near and far.

Focusing on the physics:

Representing–noticing–recording. How to:

  • keep force and energy separate
  • explicitly model the action of gravity as a force exerted by the environment
  • introduce a variety of contexts to explore how the pull of gravity varies
  • draw the force of gravity acting on objects
  • describe the variation in the force of gravity with separation
  • account for the variation in the magnitude of the force of gravity
  • use the idea of a field
  • separate the force of gravity acting on an object from the mass of the object
  • account for objects with different masses falling at the same rate
  • communicate an accurate understanding of mass
  • provide a coherent account of the experience of weightlessness

Teacher Tip: Connecting what is experienced with what is written and drawn is essential to making sense of the connections between the theoretical world of physics and the lived-in world of the children. Don't forget to exemplify this action.

Newton's Law of Gravitation
is expressed by the relation F=G(m_1)(m_2)/r^2
can be used to derive Kepler's First Law
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