Through these activities students will observe and understand the effect of gravity on objects.
Tubulartastic Roller Coaster
- I Fall Down
- Set of keys
- A child's block
- Jar of honey or molasses or both
- Individual key
- Roll of mints
- Lego block
- Paper clip
- Tipsy cup
- Bar of soap
- Rubber bands
- Weight scale
- Science journal
- Clear vinyl tubing
- Science Journals
- Poster Board
- Marbles or balls of:
- Colored pencils
Tubulartastic Body Coasters
- Five or six feet of clear flexible one inch diameter vinyl tubing,
one for each student partnership, or one per group (see back ground
- Marbles of different materials (see above), for each partnership or group
- Science Journals, one
- I Fall Down, by Vicki Cobb; ISBN; 0-688-17842-1
- Gravity is Attractive, by Science FUNdamentals Item #70962902524
- Magic School Bus Gains Weight by Scholastic
- Squibs, by Ignite Learning ASIN#BOOOBJNUKM
Background for Teachers
Gravity is a force that many of us take for granted. We cannot
see it, touch it, or smell it so how can this force affect us in our day
-to-day lives. When introducing the subject of gravity, the teacher
needs to talk about where this concept came from. Discuss Newton
and his laws of physics with the students. Newton observed an apple
falling from a tree. He developed new ideas about gravity and motion.
Gravity is an unseen force that affects all matter. Matter makes up
everything and it's the amount of stuff in a material body.
It may also be beneficial to talk about Galileo and Aristotle and
how their ideas were different but they each had the right idea about
gravity. Gravity not only affects our planet but the whole universe.
The adding of this information will help in establishing a science base
as well as introducing students to important scientists from the past.
Terms from the State Science CORE that students need to know
when talking about gravity are: distance, force, gravity, weight, motion,
speed, direction, and simple machine.
When preparing for the Tubularastic Roller Coaster activity you
need to make sure that the diameter of the balls is small enough that
it will fit in the tubing. If you get a small diameter of tubing, then
the balls need to be smaller. You could also use balls such as shot,
found at sporting good stores. If using shot, the tubing needs to be
about 3/4 in. Be sure to check that the balls roll freely in the tubing.
Marbles will probably be your best bet, since you can find marbles of
different materials and weights just make sure the balls are all the same
diameter. You may want a piece of tubing for each student or use one piece of tubing per group of students, use whichever works best for
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.
Making a Science Journal:
activity you may
want to have
students make a
are important tools
for students as
they do science. A
students with a
place to record
predictions as they
do the activities.
The student can
you want them
to know and they
can refer to their
journals and the
notes they have
notes will help
them develop a
tool for gathering
then taking that
The journal can
also be used to
record the data
that will be used
later on by the
student to create
a graph. Journals
throughout all the
Invitation to Learn
Begin to read the book, I Fall Down by Vicki Cobb. As you read
relate the things in the story to real life. For example, when the boy in the story throws the items up in the air you will do the same thing
with your students. When he throws the keys, you will throw the
keys you have, when he throws the block, you will throw the A
block, etc. Then when it comes to the page where the boy is to take
a spoon full of honey or molasses do the same thing but allow the
students to watch it close up and hands on. This could be done as
a whole group activity or you could break the students into groups
and they can do the same things that the character is doing in the
book, whichever way you would rather do it is fine. Continue to
read the book, using the items that are in the book. Ask questions
along the way like why did the things fall back to earth? Why didn't
the items stay in the air longer? Have them also make predictions
along the way as well. Some students will be familiar with gravity.
So use these students to your advantage. This will be a good time to
have students write predictions in their journals, then check to see if
their predictions were correct.
Tubulartastic Roller Coaster
Here are the steps for making a quick and easy student journal:
- Take two 1/2 x 11 pieces of white copy paper or another type
can be used. Fold both pieces in half hamburger style.
- Take one piece of paper and cut a 1/4 inch slit on the folded
part of the paper at each end of the fold.
- Take the other piece of paper and on the fold cut a slit on the
fold but do not cut the edges of the fold. The slit should be
almost the whole length of the fold, however leave about a
1/4 to 1/2 inch not cut on the edges of the fold.
- Now take the piece of paper that has the larger slit and open
the slit. Put the other paper with the slits on the edge into the
large slit on the other piece of paper.
- Manipulating the paper through the hole, pull the paper
smooth so that the folds line up with each other, and
straighten them out. They should line up to form a book.
- You can add more pages by just cutting paper like the first
page above and pulling it through the longer slit page. You can
also add lined paper or graph paper, just use the same method
- You may add a cover by gluing a construction paper to the first
page or any other type of paper you choose.
- Model for the students (This part of the activity is done as
a whole class): Have the students sit around so they can see
clearly what you are doing. You can do this activity outside but
keep in mind, the tubing works best when it is warm or at room
temperature. If the tubing is cold, it does not work as well.
Show the students the piece of 10 feet tubing. Ask, "What do
you think I am going to do with this piece of tubing?" Wait for
responses, hopefully someone will link it to gravity. You can
write responses on the board or a piece of chart paper.
- Then show them two marbles of different materials (e.g., one
steel, one wood, etc.) Tell the students that you are going to
take these two marbles, one is made of steel the other of wood,
(or whichever two marbles you decide to choose) and put them
in the tubing-- each marble at different ends--and send them
down the tubing, at the same time, until they reach each other.
Place the tubing so it is higher on both ends with the center,
about two feet of it, on the floor, with the poster board or
butcher paper underneath the tubing that is on the floor. You
will need to have a student holding up each end of the tubing as
you do this activity.
- Ask the students, "What is going to happen when I release the
marbles?" Wait for responses. Again you may write on the
board, if desired. Then tell the students, "Each one of you,
with a different color or crayon, marker or colored pencil,
will predict where you think the two marbles will meet in the
tubing." Try to give each student a different color if possible.
"You are going to take your crayon and make a line or mark
where you think the two marble will meet."
- Allow the student to do this. Have the two students that are
holding the ends of the tubing switch with other students so
they can predict as well. Ask some of the students, "Why did
you mark it at that spot?" Once every student has marked their
spots, have them write their predictions in their journals. "I
think the marble will meet right in the middle of the tubing, etc.
Then pose this question, "Which marble will get to the center
of the tubing first?" or "Will they meet in the center at exactly
the same time, or will the heavier marble get there first? Will
the lighter marble take longer to get there?" You can have them
discuss this, but then have them write it in their journals.
- Once all the writing in their journals is complete, and you
have discussed their thinking, send the balls down the tubing.
Depending on the tubing and size of the marbles they should
reach the middle about the same time. Ask, "What happened?
Why did the marbles do what they did?" Have them discuss
their reasoning, and look to see who made the correct
prediction. Ask the student why he/ she chose that spot to
make their mark.
- Tell the student that the forces of gravity act upon everything.
So although the weights of the marbles are different, gravity
pulls them down. Just like we read in the book, I Fall Down by
- Now try sending them through again, this time asking the
students to really watch the marbles go through. Ask more
questions, "Can you see how the balls move through the tubing.
If the marbles seems to slow up, there maybe some friction
inside the tubing to stop the marbles from falling quickly.
Explain this to students that although when we drop objects of
different weights, sometimes friction or air resistance can affect
the objects. Refer to the video, Gravity Attraction and Squibs
that talks about friction and air resistance that you can share
with your students; it's a great video that shows examples.
- Next, select two different marbles and have the students predict
again where the two marbles will meet in the tube. Put down
a different piece of butcher paper and again have the students
mark on the butcher paper where they think the marbles will
stop. Pose the same questions and see if their answers have
changed. If they have changed their thinking ask them why
they changed their predictions from the first activity? Again
have the two students holding the tube switch with other
students so they can predict. Write, again in their journals,
how they predicted and why.
- Send the marbles through the tube. Check the results on the
butcher paper. Repeat this activity again until you have paired
all the marbles up so the students can predict. If you have four
marbles then you will have four separate predictions.
- After you have run all the marbles down the large tubes you can
extend the activity. Take another piece of tubing of the same
length. Align the two tubes next to each other. Line them up
so one end is about two to three feet off the group, the rest of
the tube should be laid out flat on the floor. Tell the students
they are now going to have races with the marbles. Decide which two you would like to race first. Again, it is a good idea
to race two marbles of different materials and weights.
- The students predict in their journals which marble will win.
Try this again until you have raced all the marbles.
- Bring all the students back to their desks for a class discussion,
or you can leave them around the tubes. Discuss all the things
that they just took part in. What happened to the marbles as
they came down the tubes? Were all the marbles rolling at the
same speed? Why? When we put the marbles in both sides of
the tube, was there a difference in having the marbles race down
separate tracks? Explain your thinking. Ask any further questions
you would like to pose, to get their minds thinking about how
- After the discussion, have students reflect in their journals,
encourage them to draw pictures, or use other ways to express
what they have learned.
Tubular Body Coasters
- Explain to the students that they will be put into partnerships.
Each pair will get a smaller piece of tubing
(like they used in the other experiment). They will also receive
some marbles of different weights and materials. Now model
for them how they will wrap the tubing around their arm. Hold
one end toward your head and the other one wrapped around
your arm, ending at your hand. Their task is to use the tubing
and make different types of human roller coasters. They will be
predicting in their journals, what they think will happen before
they add each marble to the tube.
- Put the students into pairs, I use pop cycle sticks with the
students' names on them. I pull a stick with a students name
on it then the next stick I pull is their partner. I continue until
everyone has a partner. Or I also have pop-cycle sticks that have
paired stickers on them, for example I have two sticks that have
a sticker of a yellow smiley face, two sticks that have a purple
smiley face, etc. Stickers work great but I also use sticks that
have colored circles on the bottom of the sticks, the student
finds the other person who has a yellow circle, or blue square
etc. You can use whatever works best for you.
- Explain to the students that one student will become the holder,
and the other student will be the one to put marbles in the tube.
Tell them this is similar to what they did when the whole class
used the larger tubing, however the tubing is smaller. Then the students will switch roles, so that each one will be able to be the
human roller coaster.
- Give each partnership a five to six foot piece of clear vinyl
tubing and a set of marbles of different materials and weights.
They can start exploring with the tubing and marbles. First,
one student holds the tube while the other student drops one
marble down the top of the tube. Before they begin, have them
predict in their journals. What do you think the marbles will
do? Ask about each of the marbles the steel marble. The wood
marble, etc. "How can you make each marble go down the tube?
How can you make the marble go down the tube to the end?
They will use their bodies to move the marble through the tube.
What did you do with your body to make the marble move?
- Now make a loop in the tube. Just like on a roller coaster,
curve the tube steeply downward into the loop to make the ball
go faster. You may have to show the students how to do this
part. Try this with each marble and write down the results in
their journals. Which marble went down the fastest? Which
marble was the slowest? Why did this happen? Tell the
students that gravity is pulling the ball. It gives the ball enough
momentum, or forward motion, to go around the loop. Note to
teacher: Gravity pulls everything toward the center of the earth.
Drag pulls against gravity. The straighter and steeper the drop,
the faster the ball will roll. Tell the students "That's what makes
roller coasters so fun!"
- Ask them, if it makes a difference if you raise the other end up
instead of going straight down your arm? Try different ways
to loop the tube, around your neck, around your waist; let the
students explore. You will be amazed at how many ways they
can manipulate the tubing. As they are doing this, also remind
them to try each marble of different materials.
- How does the marble travel through the tube? Other questions
to pose as the students are exploring, are what happens if you
change the direction of the tubing, at a slope, around your
waist, etc?" "What happens to the marble of steel, wood, etc?
You may think of other questions so please use them.
- Have the advanced students do more research on Newton,
Galileo, Aristotle, and DaVinci compare their theories on
gravity. How are they the same and the difference? Which one
of the three came the closest to what we know about gravity
today? Have them present the information to the class orally, by
power point, etc.
- Design and draw a tubular roller coaster.
- Have students write about a time they rode a roller coaster or
write what they think it would be like to ride a roller coaster.
- Those students who need special adaptations can be teamed up
with a student who they are more comfortable with, a student
who perhaps has worked with them in previous partner activity,
or team three students together to help with the special need
- Watch Magic School Bus Gains Weight and go to http://teacher.scholastic.com/activities/index_grades35.htm to find some activities.
- Allow students to check out the tubing to take home and teach
their families what they learned about gravity.
- The Fly Away Moon Activitypdf.
- Science Journals
- Discussion questions
- Write reflection in journals
- Answer the questions from above in journals
- Galileo's Gravitypdf
Ozgun-Koca, S. A., (2001). The graphing skills of students in mathematics and science
education, Retrieved January 27, 2007 from http://www.stemworks.org/digests/EDO-SE-
Making representations in math and science plays a very important
role in education. Graphs can summarize complex information very
effectively. . Although graphs are explicitly taught in mathematics
classrooms as an end in themselves, many subject areas such as science
or social studies utilize graphs to represent and interpret relationships.
So being able to read or make graphical representations is a crucial
skill for every student to learn. However, many researchers detected
that many students lack graphing skills. The best way for our students
to know graphs is to use them in every subject possible. Technology is
a great resource for helping teachers in graphing activities. This article
gives some great web sites for teachers to use in teaching the subject of
Haury, D. L. (2001). Teaching science through inquiry. Retrieved January 26, 2007 from http://www.stemworks.org/realmshomepage.html
The move in science education has moved from "learning about"
science to "doing" science. Students at all grade levels should have the
opportunity to use scientific inquiry and develop the ability to think
and act in ways associated with inquiry, including asking questions,
planning and conducting investigations. This means using appropriate
tools and techniques to gather data, thinking critically and logically
about relationships between evidence and explanations, constructing
and analyzing alternative explanations, and communicating scientific
arguments. The article talks about using the World Wide Web as an
important tool for achieving success in science, not only for teachers,
but students as well. Although experiencing science with hands
on is the most critical part of learning science, the web can greatly
enrich and extend inquiry approach to science teaching. The article
introduces two approaches to using the World Wide Web, (a) through
accessing data sets constructed by science projects or agencies, and (b)
through collaboration with other school groups to produce data sets
(network science projects). It lists many web sites for use in gaining
more inquiry into science education.