Explaining Gravity in a Practical Manner

Explaining gravity in a simple experiment to first year science students

One of the greatest challenging when teaching science especially theoretical physics or where the underlying principles are not easily seen is to try and explain the theory in a manner which allows the students not only to clearly understand the topic but also allows them to articulate in a simple but concise manner.

Gravity can be very confusing, larger objects attract smaller objects, we know this but why ? You cannot see gravity, you only experience it, it not the same as sound or light where you can simply show the students what is happening.

You could try discussing Einstein   and the warping of time and space if you wish to see lots of blank faces in the auditorium from the children or you could try and demonstrate it.

For example, take a blanket and get four students to hold a corner each.   This taunt fabric is "space" you explain.

Then roll a small ball bearing down a tube and it will roll across the blanket and fall off the other side.

Now drop a large ball into the centre, this is the sun and the blanket now dips down in the centre.

Roll the small ball bearing again down the tube and you should see it rolls into blankets and around the larger ball slowing down as it circles the larger ball in the centre in ever decreasing circles until it hits the ball in the centre.

This is gravity and demonstrates how space is warped by large objects such as planets, stars and black holes