Teaching Gravity

Rob Phillips's picture

This forum is to discuss how we help students come to grips with the concept of gravity. There are several lecture demonstration videos about this in the Resources section for teachers to use and adapt but is there anything you do that seems to work that you could share with others?



Chris Creagh's picture

Gravity as a concept… Hmm interesting. Before consideration I would have said that gravity is an inescapable fact but now yes, I agree, it is a concept that “explains” why masses are attracted to each other. Pre Galileo people thought “like attracts like” so stones were attracted to the Earth and smoke (gas) was attracted to the air. This illustrates how our conceptualization of the world around us has changed over the intervening time.

Rob Phillips's picture

I'm glad I've got you thinking. Another reason to think of gravity as a concept, is the different way it is treated in general relativity.

I noted this when I was reading Warren Stannard's work, which I hope wil be featured on this site soon:

"Newton proposed that gravity is a force acting at a distance between two masses, but Einstein had a different view. He said that gravity is not a force but is simply a result of curved space."

And gravity is no longer 'inescapable' since we now have rockets...