I teach a lot of science at school to young kids. They love learning about the world around them and gaining an understanding of how things work. I love finding ways to teach young children about big scientific concepts in a way that makes sense to them. Today our topic is gravity for kids!
I wanted to find some gravity experiments for kids that were science based, but also engaging. The children that I teach love talking about superheroes and had even been learning about them in class.
So, for science, I decided to mix our gravity lesson with their interest in superheroes. I used different superhero figures to show everyone a bit about gravity for kids!
There are only a few simple materials that you need for this gravity experiment. A link to purchase the materials is included at the bottom of this post.
- Small Superhero Figures
- Plastic Straws
- String/Yarn/Fishing Line
- Hot Glue
I prepared the materials ahead of time because I needed to use hot glue.
Cut each straw to be roughly an inch, or a few centimeters.
I then put a line of glue on the superheroes back and stuck the straw down and made sure that it was secure. (As pictured)
Next, I threaded string through the straw. The string you use needs to be quite long, depending how far you want your superhero to fly. I made enough so that I could give each pair of children a superhero with a string attached.
I also kept one superhero for myself to use later for my gravity for kids demonstration. The string on my superhero was really long!
Once your materials are ready, you can start the experiment with children.
Gravity for Kids Experiment Steps
I like making experiments as hands-on as possible with kids. I find when children are given the opportunity to explore the materials and test them out on their own, they are more likely to remember and learn from the activity.
Start by pairing children up and giving each pair a superhero figure that is attached to a string. The string that I used for the children was only a few meters long.
I started by giving each pair a superhero figure that was attached to a string. Originally I used yarn (as pictured). However, I later changed it and used fishing line. There is less friction with the fishing line and the superhero ‘flew’ better.
In pairs I had each child hold one end of the string and move apart from each other so that the string was tight. They both started holding the string up as high as they could. One child then moved their end of the string down to the ground.
Children quickly noticed that their superhero would ‘fly’ when one end of the string was lifted higher than the other.
I then introduced the word gravity. Children noticed that their superhero would always slide down towards the ground.
They were encouraged to move the string up or down in an attempt to make their figure move, or ‘fly’.
I gave children some time to explore and experiment with their superheroes and trying to make them fly.
Whole Group Gravity for Kids Experiment
After partners experimented with their superhero, we then took did the experiment together.
Take one end of the long string that your superhero is attached to and move to a higher place. I climbed our playground equipment as children watched from below.
To add to the height, I tied one end of my string to a long stick so that I could lift the superhero even higher above my head.
As I stood at a higher point, I had a child at the bottom with the other end of the long string.
Based on their own experimenting with the string and superheroes, children all thought of a hypothesis for what they thought was going to happen when I let go of my superhero.
I used the stick to help easily raise the string to an even higher point. I then let go!
Because of gravity, the superhero “flew” down towards the children at the bottom. He glided from a higher, to lower point.
I then asked my volunteer at the bottom, holding the string, to send my superhero back up top to me. Despite several attempts, we all concluded that it was gravity that pulled our superhero down, but it would not help send it up.
This experiment serves as an easy introduction to gravity for young kids and a great way to get outside!
Gravity for Kids Extension Ideas
My students really enjoyed this activity and having a small superhero “fly” over them. I wanted to continue this enthusiasm and interest so there are a few extension activities you can try.
One thing that can make a difference with this experiment is the string or yarn you use. Thick, fuzzy yarn may cause a lot of friction and make your superhero not slide very well. You can compare yarn, wool, string and fishing line an any other material you have available to see which works best to help your superhero slide.
Testing out different strings could also teach kids about friction and the fact that although everything is pulled to the ground because of gravity different materials can play a role in the speed.
If you try out different strings you can also have some fun with it by racing the different superheroes. This way children will learn about gravity, but also friction. And the best part is, they will have fun as they are learning.
Although I did this experiment in a school setting, you can easily do it inside or outside at home. As long as one end of the string is higher children will clearly see that the superhero will slide down towards the ground, but never up.
That’s the basic idea that young children need to understand about gravity.
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