The activities in this lesson will allow students to observe and analyze the forces of gravity.
Main Curriculum Tie:
Science - 3rd Grade
Standard 4 Objective 2
Describe the effects of gravity on the motion of an object.
It's An Uphill Battle
- 3rd grade Elementary CORE Academy Handbook (2003);
- Looking Inside Sports Aerodynamics (X-Ray Vision), by Ron Schultz;
- Experiments with Gravity (True Books), by Salvatore Tocci, Robert
Gardner, Nancy R. Vargus; ISBN 051629348
- The Science Book of Gravity, by Neil Ardley; ISBN 0385253877
- Roller Coaster! (1993, WGBH Educational Foundation)
- Lift-Off to Learning, Space Basics, NASA, 21:00
- Windows on Science, Primary Vol. 3, Force and Motion, Lesson 11
Background For Teachers:
If you throw a ball into the air, the force you exert pushes the ball
forward and/or up. The ball continues to move in that direction until the
effect of gravity becomes stronger than the force of your throw. Gravity
pulls the ball downward toward Earth.
Intended Learning Outcomes:
1. Use Science Process and Thinking Skills
2. Manifest Scientific Attitudes and Interests
3. Understand Science Concepts and Principles
4. Communicate Effectively Using Science Language and Reasoning
Invitation to Learn
Bicycle Ride Pantomime
Tell the students they are going to pretend to go on a bike ride and
they need to listen carefully as you describe the terrain and respond
“It is a nice spring day—great for a bike ride. You put on
your helmet and pull your bike to the end of the driveway. You
carefully climb onto your bike. After looking both ways, you
start pedaling and turn right onto the road. The road is nice and
flat for awhile. Now, you are approaching a small hill. To get to
the top you have to push a little harder and faster on your pedals.
The road levels off and then disappears. You suspect that the road
goes downhill. You are correct. It is a long gentle slope. As you
go down the hill, you can coast instead of pedal. You turn right at
the bottom of the hill where the road flattens out. A nice steady
even pedaling keeps you going at a constant speed. You spot a
steep ravine up ahead. As you approach, you sigh before starting
downhill. You have to apply the brakes to prevent yourself from
going too fast. As soon as you reach the bottom, you start to
climb uphill. It is so steep; you have to pedal really hard and fast.
Once on top, you stop to catch your breath. The flat terrain is
inviting. You pedal along at a steady speed. You turn left at the
corner and continue your steady pedaling until you reach your
friend’s house. You turn left into their driveway, stop, get off
your bike, lean your bike against the wall, and take off your
What would you tell your friend about your bike ride and the effect of
gravity as you went up and down the hills?
It’s An Uphill Battle
- Place the chairs approximately 24”
- Place the pipe insulator between the two chairs, forming a “U”
and extending 36” off the floor at both ends. Tape the pipe onto
- Explain to the students that you are going to release a marble
from various starting points. Have the students predict how far up
on the other side the marble will roll.
- Place the marble on the pipe insulator 30” from the floor and
- Observe how far up the other side the marble traveled. Record
your observations on the It’s an Uphill Battle data recording sheet.
- Repeat steps four and five from a height of 24”, 18”, 12” and 6”.
- Analyze the results.
Relate this activity to the Roller Coaster activity.
- Display the Throwing Balls overhead
transparency showing three
scenarios of a thrown ball.
- Have students predict which scenario is
- Watch the video: Lift-Off to Learning, Space Basics
- Go outside and have the students experiment throwing a ball.
Instruct the students to observe and analyze the forces acting on
the ball and the results of those forces.
- Have the students discuss and analyze the overhead transparency
pictures again and reach a conclusion of what happens to a ball
that is thrown in the air.
Have the students select and research an amusement park ride of their
choice. Write a report detailing when, where, why, how, and by whom
the ride was invented. The student may also include technological
advances in the ride since its original invention. Include what forces are
Sing Gravity (pdf).
Play a game with family that requires a ball. Instruct students to
discuss the effect of forward momentum and gravity on the ball.
Family Bike Ride
Go on a family bike ride. Discuss how it requires more force to go
up a hill than down a hill.
Design (and construct) an amusement park ride at home with the help
of family. Bring the ride to school and set up a class amusement park.
It’s an Uphill Battle
- Did the student accurately fill in the information on his/her data
- Can the student explain (written or orally) why the ball does not
travel up as far on the opposite side compared to the spot from
which it was released? This may be illustrated and explained in
his/her science journal.
- Students draw a diagram of what happens when a ball is thrown
in their science journals. Label the forces and direction of the
forces acting upon the ball.
Created Date :
Oct 07 2004 15:00 PM