Academic standards correlations on Teachers' Domain use the Achievement Standards Network (ASN) database of state and national standards, provided to NSDL projects courtesy of JES & Co.
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In this lesson, students examine four of the experiments that Galileo used to discover the effects of gravity and inertia on moving objects. Galileo challenged the thinking of his day by studying falling objects, projectiles, objects rolling down inclined planes, and swinging pendulums. His observations are the basis for much of current classical physics. Students will use a combination of interactive activities, video segments, and readings to study Galileo's ideas.
1. Have students read the introduction to the Galileo: His Experiments interactive activity and discuss the following:
2. Have students do the Falling Objects experiment in the Galileo: His Experiments interactive activity. Discuss the effect of mass on the rate of a falling body. Have students brainstorm several daily events in which one can observe the independence of mass on acceleration of a falling object due to gravity.
3. Have students do the Projectiles experiment in the Galileo: His Experiments interactive activity. Discuss the horizontal and vertical components of motion for a projectile. Have students brainstorm several daily events in which one can observe projectile motion.
4. Show the video Galileo's Thought Experiment. Discuss the concept of frames of reference and other examples of relative motion that are analogous to the horse rider dropping a ball. Examples include a passenger in a train or car throwing a ball up in the air.
5. Have students do the Inclined Planes experiment in the Galileo: His Experiments interactive activity. Discuss the effects of height and inclination on the velocity of and length of time traveled by an object rolling down an inclined plane. Have students brainstorm several daily events in which one can observe objects moving down inclined planes.
6. Show the video Galileo's Inclined Plane. Have students discuss why Galileo used inclined planes to study the effects of gravity and what he discovered through his research.
7. Have students brainstorm several daily events in which one can observe pendular motion. Have them predict which variables determine the period of the swing.
8. Have students do the Pendulums experiment in the Galileo: His Experiments interactive activity. Discuss the effects of the mass of the swinging object and the length of the string on the period of the swing.
9. Distribute the materials and instructions for the Experimenting with a Pendulum activity. Have students test variables to determine which affect the period of the swinging motion. For example, while keeping the length of the string constant, have students vary the mass of the swinging object by using 1, 2, and then 3 washers at the end of the string. Then, while keeping the mass constant, have them vary the length of the string. For each trial, have them measure the period of the swing -- one complete back-and-forth swing of the pendulum. It is typically easiest to measure the time for 10 swings and divide by 10 to get the average period per swing.
Have students discuss the following: