Physics in Primary Schools: Forces & gravity 
Physics in Primary Schools: Forces & gravity
by University of Sheffield / Gillian Gehring
Video Lecture 2 of 10
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Views: 12,686
Date Added: December 17, 2009

Lecture Description

Forces and Gravity: Is gravity real or does the Earth just suck?

Supports National Curriculum Key Stage 2, Units 1E, 2E, 4E and 6E (view Irish curriculum links)

Suitable for years 4, 5 and 6

The time for whole session is about 2 hours. This can be varied by taking shorter paths through the material. Choices may depend on the apparatus available or the particular needs of the class.

Outline of content

Aims to:

* establish what the children already know, using demos and class experiments

* provide the children with a clear idea of what a force is

* relate movement to forces

* explain that gravity and weight are forces

* establish that forces can be measured and teach them to estimate the size of forces

* represent forces with arrows

* the forces are balanced on objects falling steadily

* teach that there is a force of gravity on the Moon but it is much smaller than on Earth

* teach that the planets orbit the Sun because of gravity

* excite the children’s interest

Points to note:

Please read the notes about safety and agree the assessment with the teacher before the session!

Cross References:

* The slides in the PowerPoint presentation are referenced in the table.

* As the presentation may be running throughout the session some simple slides provide a suitable background, alternatively switch to a black screen.

* Apparatus details are linked to the relevant sections.

* Notes about are included with the actitivties.

* Vocabulary: The presentation uses expressions included in the KS1 and 2 strategies

Misconceptions to be corrected

* there is no gravity in space

* the Moon does not have a gravitational field

* heavy objects fall faster than light objects

* all objects are ‘weightless’ in space

Feedback from the trials:

"I found that it was important to spend time on the very basic ideas of forces. They learned a lot from the games and these lead into discussions which I encouraged so that they could gain a clear understanding. Teachers, in each school, commented that their own understanding had been clarified".

Link to:

* Activities

* Apparatus List

* Safety Notes

* Forces and Gravity PowerPoint Presentation

* Download Overview, Activities, Apparatus List and Safety Notes as a combi ned Word document for ease of printing


Course Index

Course Description

This site is for physicists - to interest children in physics. The material covers topics suitable for use when visiting primary schools. A joint venture triggered by the Institute of Physics Women in Physics Group. Material is provided by a team from the University of Sheffield with EPSRC funding.


* to enthuse young children with the enjoyment and excitement of physics.

* to support the primary school teachers with the extensive Key Stage 1 and 2 science curricula involving numerous abstract concepts.


* Electricity

* Forces and Gravity

* Forces and Magnets

* Sound

* Solids

* Light

* Solids, Liquids and Gases

* Sunlight and Space Travel

* Forces and Springs

* Earth and Solar System

* Electricity Generation Part 1

* Electricity Generation Part 2

Young children love science and enjoy doing practical work, your scientific expertise will be greatly appreciated and the children will have lots of questions for you to answer. You may be surprised to find how much you enjoy it.

The Sheffield team: Professor Gillian Gehring, Professor David Mowbray, Dr Susan Cartwright, Dr Richard de Grijs, Dr David Lidzey, Ann Marks.


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