G for Gravity
As they grow observing things around, children develop an intuitive perception that anything that’s thrown on to air will eventually fall down. Just that they might not be aware that humans call this phenomenon ‘gravity’. At one point, there might arise questions in them around gravity just as Newton did and it’s a clue that it’ time for us, adults, to facilitate and expand their understanding about gravity.
And something that can be awe-inspiring for children to watch is things standing against gravity. Try defying gravity and see how many more questions and thought processes it can kick-start in children. So, all you need is a medium to strong magnet and some simple things around!
Tips to introduce
- Children observe and infer many phenomena naturally as a part of their everyday lives, perhaps without associating with science terms. An adult with whom children interact about their observations plays a pivotal role in inculcating science awareness in them. If that’s you, know that you have the power to inspire science learning in children.
- You can begin with magical stories like a princess suspended in air. If something that defies gravity amuses them, it is a good sign that this topic can be taken forward.
- Ask them why things that stay on air seem amusing. Is it because it’s unusual? If yes, why is it unusual? Why don’t things stay on air? Why do they tend to fall down?
- You both can practically demonstrations with several objects being dropped – if the object falls or not, if it falls quick or takes time, and why would different objects behave differently within the same space.
- This gravity-defying experiment also requires a fair understanding of force. So it might be a good idea to explore force before you are ready at defying gravity.
- When you are at the experiment venue, explain to them what you are going to do without revealing what you are likely to observe.
- Set it up and let them observe what happens!
- Allow them to explain their inference if it is of their interest. Don’t push or annoyingly try to bring explanations out of them. Most importantly, enjoy if their rationales are not logical or correct. They are still children, and being right is not as important as being interested to observe and have fun with science. And then follow their cues to build on.
Things you’ll need
How do you do it?
1. Fix a magnet on top of a open cardboard box using tape.
2. Tie a thread to one end of the paper clip and tape the other end of the thread to the bottom of the cardboard box. You will need to do a little adjustment about the length of the thread here according to the height of your cardboard box.
3. Now gently hold the paper clip and take it near the magnet. Tada! Watch it as the paper clip stands suspended without actually touching the magnet.
The Science behind
Defying gravity is no rocket science! Gravity is a force, well quite a strong force. While stars and planets have their own individual gravitational forces, what we in general refer to gravity is Earth’s gravitational force that pulls things closer to Earth.
In order to defy gravity, that is, make an object resist Earth’s pull, another force that is stronger than Earth’s gravitational force should hold the object upward. That’s exactly what happens in this experiment. The force of the magnets pulls the paper clip toward the magnet, while the thread tied to the other end of the paper clip tends to pull it downward due to Earth’s gravity.
As the magnets subject more force on the paper clip than gravity, the paper clip tends to be pulled toward the magnets. Since it is tied on the other end, the paper clip does not attach to the magnets, but instead stands vertically aloof without touching (but still pulled toward) the magnets.
Share your experience
Did you try? Did it work? Did you defy gravity? Leave a word in the comment section. I would love to hear!
Here’s the full list of DIY Science Experiments in this series:
A for Air – Does Air has Weight?
B for Buoyancy – Can Egg float on Salt Water?
C for Capillary action – Rainbow Walking
D for Density – 3 Layer Density Experiment
E for Earth & Moon – Why does the Moon change its shape?: Phases of the Moon
F for Fire – Does Fire need Oxygen to Burn?
G for Gravity – Defying Gravity