Gravity Lesson


Leticia Rodriguez

This lesson was created as a part of the SMART website and is hosted by the Illinois Institute of Technology

bulb     Gravity          bulb

This lesson is designed for students in fifth grade, although this lesson can be modified to suit kindergarten through grade 12; even a college level physics course. This lesson can be done within a 60-minute period.

To find out if mass effects the drops of the student-made model parachutes and helicopters.

This lesson incorporates the following Chicago Academic Standards & Frameworks (Science K-6):  Conduct experiments and observations and explain what was discovered.   Describe conditions that  influence change during an investigation.  Ask questions and formulate hypotheses.  Select and use instruments to collect, organize and present data related  to a scientific investigation- timer, stopwatches.  Gather data  from investigation by applying a variety of  scientific skills-measurement and recording methods.  Use data based  on observations from guided experiments to construct reasonable and accurate explanations.  Interpret data and evaluate the accuracy of the outcomes.  Compare observations of individual and group  results.  Use appropriate vocabulary to describe scientific phenomena and instrumentation.  Construct simple models that illustrate concepts-a helicopter, a parachute.  Compare and contrast an action and reaction in the behavior  of objects.     

This lesson incorporates the following NCTM- Principles and Standards for School Mathematics:  Instructional programs  from pre-kindergarten through grade 12 should be able to - Problem Solve; Show Reasoning  and Proof; Communicate their thinking coherently and clearly to peers, teachers and others; Create and use representations  to organize and record data-graphs, charts, tables, etc.


Participation Awards
Super Scientists Awards
Hershey Kisses treats

Helicopter Parachute
paper clips newspaper
pencils string
notebook paper washers
scissors+ scissors
ruler rulers
stopwatches paper clips
model directions stopwatches
  model directions

Helicopter Model Directions



Parachute Model Directions

Strategy:  Initiate Motivation: We will begin this lesson by doing the experiments first.  The experiments will be done in groups.  Four people will be in each group.  Within each group there will be:  A Retriever; A Recorder; Recorder; A  Releaser; A Timer.                 

Helicopter Activity:  1. Create a helicopter within each group.  2.  Pass out helicopter materials to each group.  3. Assign each group to a specific location.  4. Drop helicopters from an agreed height and record time of landing in seconds on notebook paper.  5. Repeat Step 4 with 1 paper clip, 5 paper clips, and 10 paper clips.  

Parachute Activity:  1. Create a parachute within each group.   2. Pass out parachute materials to each group.  3. Assign each group to a  specific location.  4. Drop parachutes from  an agreed height and record time of landing in seconds on notebook paper.  5. Repeat Step 4 with 1 paper clip, 5 paper clips, and 10 paper clips.

Culminating Activity:  1. After students finish their activity and record their data within their groups, all groups should come together as a whole class.  2. Each group should write their data on the board (time in seconds for 1 clip, 5 clips, and 10 clips).  Teacher initiates student discussion with the  following questions:  What happens to the helicopter/parachute as it falls?  Why do you think the helicopter/parachute falls to the ground?  What was the difference between the helicopter/parachute when it did not have any paper clips and when it had 1 paper clip?  What was the difference between 1 paper clip and 5 paper clips?  What was the difference between 5 paper clips and 10 paper clips?  How do the paper clips effect the landing of the helicopter/parachute?  How would you have designed your helicopter/parachute to make it more effective?  What do you think your design would accomplish that my helicopter/parachute did not accomplish?  Would the new ideas you discovered within your groups change with your new model helicopter/parachute?  

Performance Assessment:  The students should be able to perform the criteria set out in the objectives within their groups while creating their model helicopters and parachutes.  In addition, students should  be able to orally express their findings during the Culminating Activity on an individual basis due to their experience they had within their groups. 

Conclusion:  The "Culminating Activity" is the conclusion of this lesson. Pass out awards accordingly within each group and Hershey Kisses to all students for a job well done.


The following links will provide examples of weight and gravity on earth and within our Solar System.

Other links:

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