# Falling Objects

In this worksheet, students will be learning about the force of gravity through observation and experiment.

Key stage:  KS 2

Curriculum topic:   Forces

Curriculum subtopic:   Gravity

Difficulty level:

### QUESTION 1 of 10

Scientists look carefully at what's happening in the world. They try to understand what they see and to explain why things happen the way they do. They are always asking questions about the way the world works.

In this worksheet, you can be a science investigator too!

Got a ball?  Any ball.

What happens when you throw it into the air?

it goes up and then falls back down again

it goes up and up and then disappears into the sky

it goes up and then floats for a while and slowly falls to the ground

OK, got any other balls to throw?  Go and check.

So, now what happens if you throw balls of different sizes into the air, such as a tennis ball, a football or a beach-ball?

some balls stay in the air

every ball falls to the ground

Well, do you think that everything will fall to the ground?  Why not experiment with other objects (but don't choose objects that break easily!).

Once again, OBSERVE what happens.  Does everything fall to the ground?

yes

no

Right, can you find a feather?

What happens when you drop a feather from a height?

it will drop immediately to the floor

it will slowly fall to the floor, swaying as it falls

it will stay in the air

What do you think would happen if you were standing indoors on a flat surface and dropped a small, ping pong ball and a leather football from the same height at the same time?

The ping pong ball would land first

The football would land first

They would land at the same time

Hundreds of years ago everyone believed that heavier objects fell to the ground faster than light objects.  Then an Italian scientist called Galileo put this idea to the test.  He dropped heavy and light objects from the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Which of these objects that Galileo dropped do you PREDICT would hit the ground first?

large stone ball

small stone ball

stone statue

none - they'd all fall at the same speed

What is the name of the force that causes objects to fall to the ground?

What is the reason that objects fall to the ground in the way they do?

they are attracted by planet Earth

they are pushed down by the weight of air acting on them

objects cannot float - they have to fall

Imagine that there's a BIG hole in the surface of the Earth, a hole that reached 100km down below the ground.

If you dropped an object into it, how far do you think it would fall?

it would fall all the way to the bottom

it would fall until it escaped the gravity at the surface, and then stop

it would fall until it was out of sight and then stop

The force that pulls objects downwards is different depending on where you are.  Bigger planets have a greater pulling force than smaller planets.

Put the following four 'places' in order from the one with the GREATEST pulling force (that's the one where your ball, for example, would be pulled to the ground with the most force) to the one with the LEAST pulling force.

EARTH

JUPITER

SPACE

EARTH'S MOON

 First (greatest force) Second Third Fourth (least force) Earth Jupiter Space Earth's Moon
• Question 1

Got a ball?  Any ball.

What happens when you throw it into the air?

it goes up and then falls back down again
EDDIE SAYS
Was that a surprise? Guess not, really! No matter how hard you throw the ball it only goes up so far, and then falls back to the ground again. You have made an observation of something happening in the world - that's what science is about: ask questions, try things out, see what happens, work out why.
• Question 2

OK, got any other balls to throw?  Go and check.

So, now what happens if you throw balls of different sizes into the air, such as a tennis ball, a football or a beach-ball?

every ball falls to the ground
EDDIE SAYS
Surprised? What did you observe? Of course, no matter what size of ball you throw, they all fall to the ground again.
• Question 3

Well, do you think that everything will fall to the ground?  Why not experiment with other objects (but don't choose objects that break easily!).

Once again, OBSERVE what happens.  Does everything fall to the ground?

yes
EDDIE SAYS
Even a very light object such as a feather eventually floats to the ground. You began by observing that one type of object will fall to the ground. Then you experimented to find out if all objects did the same. Congratulations. You are thinking like a scientist!
• Question 4

Right, can you find a feather?

What happens when you drop a feather from a height?

it will slowly fall to the floor, swaying as it falls
EDDIE SAYS
Feathers are VERY light, which means that they do not fall as quickly as heavier objects because it's hard for them to push the air out of the way when they're falling. Because they are so light, they will be carried on the wind as they fall, so it looks as though they are swaying from side to side.
• Question 5

What do you think would happen if you were standing indoors on a flat surface and dropped a small, ping pong ball and a leather football from the same height at the same time?

They would land at the same time
EDDIE SAYS
If you were outside and there was a gust of wind to affect the balls as they fell, then the heavier football might land first. However, inside (where there is no wind), they would land at the same time. Why IS that? It's all to do with gravity: both balls have the same force pulling them to the ground and assuming that the air is the same around them, they should fall together, even though one is much heavier than the other.
• Question 6

Hundreds of years ago everyone believed that heavier objects fell to the ground faster than light objects.  Then an Italian scientist called Galileo put this idea to the test.  He dropped heavy and light objects from the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Which of these objects that Galileo dropped do you PREDICT would hit the ground first?

none - they'd all fall at the same speed
EDDIE SAYS
Nearly 2000 years before Galileo's birth, a Greek philosopher called Aristotle had come up with a theory that heavy objects fell faster than light objects, but he didn't try it out. Everyone just believed him. Then Galileo thought about it and decided it needed testing. As you'll know, he found that gravity (no one knew about gravity then, though) pulled everything to the ground at the same rate. So all his objects took about the same time to fall an equal distance.
• Question 7

What is the name of the force that causes objects to fall to the ground?

gravity
EDDIE SAYS
Sir Isaac Newton, about 100 years after Galileo, came up with the idea of the force of gravity, a theory we still believe in today.
• Question 8

What is the reason that objects fall to the ground in the way they do?

they are attracted by planet Earth
EDDIE SAYS
We now understand that it's the size of our planet that causes it to have a pulling force (gravity) which not only attracts objects to its surface but also makes sure that 'we' stay there - after all, imagine that gravity could be switched off: not only would you be whizzing off into space, but so would rather massive things like the oceans!
• Question 9

Imagine that there's a BIG hole in the surface of the Earth, a hole that reached 100km down below the ground.

If you dropped an object into it, how far do you think it would fall?

it would fall all the way to the bottom
EDDIE SAYS
Have you ever thought about this problem? It's hard to test because the furthest humans have ever sunk a hole into the Earth is just 4km (that's a mine shaft). However, we believe that gravity acts towards the CENTRE of the Earth, so we believe that objects would fall to the bottom of a 100km hole (if it wasn't too hot for them and so melt them!).
• Question 10

The force that pulls objects downwards is different depending on where you are.  Bigger planets have a greater pulling force than smaller planets.

Put the following four 'places' in order from the one with the GREATEST pulling force (that's the one where your ball, for example, would be pulled to the ground with the most force) to the one with the LEAST pulling force.

EARTH

JUPITER

SPACE

EARTH'S MOON

 First (greatest force) Second Third Fourth (least force) Earth Jupiter Space Earth's Moon
EDDIE SAYS
Jupiter is the largest of the planets here, so it\'ll have the biggest gravitational pull on, say, your ball, pulling it down with the biggest force. Our Moon has about one sixth of the gravity of Earth, because it\'s much smaller. However, in space there\'s nothing to create a pulling force so you\'d just float and float and ....
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