Law of Universal Gravitation

Objective:

  • Relate the gravitational force to the mass of objects and the distance between them.

This virtual lab is designed for use in 6th grade lessons.

Virtual Experiment

In the Gravitational Attraction Simulation, students observe the gravitational attraction that two objects exert on each other and change the properties of masses to see their effect on gravitational attraction. All objects in the universe are attracted to each other as if there are invisible magnets between them. The bigger the object, the stronger the attraction. This is called the law of universal gravitation. It is what keeps us on earth and keeps us from flying off into space.

The figure below shows the functions each button performs.

Workflow:

Step 1. When the simulation opens, you will see:

  • Weight of the first body-100 kg;
  • The weight of the second body-400 kg;
  • The distance between the bodies-4 m;
  • The force with which the bodies exert on each other’s mass is 0.000000166852 N.

Step 2. For convenience, switch the force from decimal form to standard form. The value of the force is 1.67 * 10-17 n. You will see that the two body shapes have two different sizes. By clicking the constant size button, you can make both bodies the same size without changing the weight.

Step 3. Increase the distance between the bodies. You can change the distance between 0-10 meters. Observe the gravity.

Step 4. Decrease the distance between the bodies. Observe the gravity.

Step 5. Change the mass of the first body. You can vary your body weight from 10 to 1000 kg. Observe the gravity.

Step 6. Change the mass of the second body. You can vary your body weight from 10 to 1000 kg. Observe gravity.

Step 7. Draw conclusions. How did gravity change while the distance between the bodies changed and while the masses of the bodies changed?

Conclusion

In the virtual work, it has been shown that according to the law of gravity, the greater the mass of an object, the greater the attraction and the smaller the distance, the stronger the attraction.