Orbits
Earth and Space | Forces and Motion

Things you'll need to decide on as you plan: Orbits and Satellites

Teaching Guidance for 11-14 Supporting Physics Teaching

Bringing together two sets of constraints

Focusing on the learners:

Distinguishing–eliciting–connecting. How to:

  • introduce the wide variety of objects that function as satellites
  • draw out ideas of what a natural motion might be
  • explore expectations about satellites falling back to Earth
  • draw out any difficulties with the motion of satellites
  • introduce a wide range of uses for artificial satellites
  • include natural satellites alongside artificial satellites

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:

  • account for circular motion
  • explain the need for a centripetal force
  • distinguish between orbiting and spinning on an axis
  • draw diagrams to distinguish between geostationary and circumpolar orbits for satellites

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.

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