5 minute science bite…gravity

My eldest daughter found a book I bought on Force and Motion for K-2nd graders, and she decided she wanted to do an experiment. We haven’t done one in a long while, so I decided it was time. I also decided it’s not really all that hard to come up with 5 minute science experiments using common household materials.

So, with that in mind, we decided to do a basic experiment with gravity. We selected different materials: a small stone, a small pom-pom, a large pom-pom, a small eraser, a piece of construction paper, a piece of mulberry paper (since I didn’t have a feather, I thought this was just as good), and a crumpled up piece of paper.


We talked a bit about gravity being the force that keeps us on the ground and that it is the force at work when things fall. So we just decided to test what kinds of materials landed on the ground faster than others.

We pitted these things against each other:

mulberry paper and rock

mulberry paper and crumpled paper

mulberry paper and construction paper

eraser and paper

large pom pom vs small pom pom

stone vs eraser

My daughter made her guesses, then we checked by having her stand on a chair and letting them go.

mulberry paper and rock; her guess = rock; result = rock.

mulberry paper and crumpled paper; her guess = mulberry paper; result = crumpled paper

mulberry paper and construction paper; her guess = construction paper; result = construction paper

eraser and mulberry paper; her guess = mulberry paper; result = eraser

large pom-pom vs small pom-pom; her guess = large pom-pom; result = they landed at the same time.

stone vs eraser; her guess = at the same time; result = at the same time.

So what did we learn?

Things that looked like they were bigger didn’t mean they fell faster. The two different sized pom-poms landed at the same time, so did the rock and the eraser. The two flat pieces of paper (construction and mulberry) landed at different times – the lighter mulberry paper simply floated down slowly.

We talked about how gravity can’t be seen, but it is a force that causes things to fall down or be pulled toward earth.

We talked about how we can use our muscles to overcome the force of gravity briefly by jumping. But because of gravity, we always fall back to the ground. We also talked about how animals overcome gravity by special tricks: birds use their wings to fly, some frogs have special feet to help them stick to trees, grasshoppers hop, and other animals (like monkeys, koala bears, and sloths) climb.

Other questions to ask are:
How does gravity help you on a slide?
Why don’t you float away when jumping on a trampoline or a diving board?
What is harder, walking up a hill or down a hill and why?

This entry was posted in science, Toddler/Preschooler and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to 5 minute science bite…gravity

  1. KatieMae says:

    I LOVE those circles. Is there any chance you’d be willing to share the Corel file(s) with me? Pretty please 🙂

    And I’ve seen you mention the self-stick laminating material twice in the last few weeks – where do you buy that? It would be great to have some of that on-hand.

  2. growinginpeace says:

    Sure, I can send it, as soon as I find out where my husband put the file. Maybe I can find a way to make it downloadable on this blog. At any rate, my husband supposedly moved it to one of my folders, and dh is not at home tonight (he’s at a hockey game at the moment). I will look for it, but I may have to send it off later.

    The self stick laminating paper is usually found at office supply stores (Office Max, Office Depot, etc).

    But if you can’t find that, you could also use clear contact paper too. I’ve heard others use that just as well, though I haven’t myself.

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