Lesson plan

Forces in Space

Investigate phenomena that demonstrate the physics of the universe, and for older students, find out how astronomers find black holes, exoplanets and dark matter.

Tell students that they will experiment with forces and find out how astronomers use the same physics to understand the universe and discover new objects in it.
Depending on the age, do all or a selection of the activities. Explain how astronomers use the same physics to understand the universe.
Then come back down to Earth to make a balancing sculpture, which works by the same principles of balance and centre of mass, as objects in orbit together.

Suggestion for intermediates: three or four stations to rotate through - gravity well (how black holes are discovered), coupled orbits (how black holes and exoplanets are discovered, and why astronomers are looking for Planet 9), gravitational lensing (how dark matter and cosmic background radiation are mapped, how galaxy clusters and early universe galaxies can be studied), spirograph (art activity modeling orbit precession). Optionally do balancing sculpture all together.
Suggestion for primaries: two stations to rotate through - gravity well (orbit shapes of our moon and planets), then balancing sculpture all together.


Similar selection of activities to the Black Holes lesson, but with a broader message.

Grades taught
Gr K
Gr 1
Gr 2
Gr 3
Gr 4
Gr 5
Gr 6
Gr 7