Gravity and Orbits: Orbits

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Science Objects are two hour on-line interactive inquiry-based content modules that help teachers better understand the science content they teach. This Science Object, co-developed between NASA and NSTA, is the third of three Science Objects in the Gravity and Orbits SciPack. It provides an understanding of how gravitational forces influence the motion of an object in orbit. When a force acts toward a single center, an object’s forward motion and its motion toward that center can combine to create a curved path around the center. Gravity governs the motion of all objects in the solar system. The Sun’s gravitational pull holds the Earth and other planets in their orbits, just as the planets’ gravitational pull keeps their moons in orbit around them.

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Reviews (5)
  • on Sun Mar 29, 2015 7:20 PM

I recommend watching Newton's Second Law of Motion science object before watching this series of science objects. This one will take a couple of tries to get all the details.

Robin Willig  (Rye Brook, NY)
Robin Willig (Rye Brook, NY)

  • on Tue Sep 02, 2014 7:28 AM

I really enjoy Science Objects. In 1-3 hours, the Gravity and Orbits: Orbits Science Object will help me re-learn, refresh, or learn for the first time some critical science concepts I will have to know to obtain my Science Educator credentials. I appreciate that I can complete them at my own pace, and that, if used as park of a SciPack, I have access to a content expert to go to for help. The NSTA Learning Center Science Objects are very beneficial!

Naomi Beverly  (Marietta, GA)
Naomi Beverly (Marietta, GA)

  • on Sun Jan 01, 2012 10:34 PM

This object was very beneficial if you are looking for a very good way to describe the bulges responsible for the tides. It also illustrates how satellites are orbited around the Earth in a very concrete way. The illustrations and examples were very easy to follow!

Brandy Stewart
Brandy Stewart

  • on Mon Dec 26, 2011 7:26 PM

This resource was very challenging, and perhaps geared towards those educators who teach Physics. The mathematics although seemingly clear, needed to be reviewed several times before I could navigate through the object with some sort of ease. I am not not an Astronomy teacher by nature, and so for me, I definitely needed this resource to serve as a refresher; I realize that I need to spend more time reviewing this content in order to successfully address students' misconceptions. All in all, the information is concise and offers several opportunities for educators to check your understanding.

Lorrie Armfield  (Laurel, MD)
Lorrie Armfield (Laurel, MD)

  • on Sun Jun 19, 2011 12:05 AM

Everything was fine in the Microgravity in an Elevator until the last paragraph of Weight vs Weight. Talking about the elevator starting down again, this statement is made: "My stomach also tends to move upward in my body. (According to Newton's first law, my stomach gets left behind until my diaphragm pushes it downward.)." In my opinion, the parenthetical is incorrect. The stomach is pushed up (i.e. held) by the diaphragm in normal gravity. Upon the elevator starting down, the diaphragm continues to push the stomach upward. Getting "left behind" makes one think of Wiley Coyote momentarily not falling after running off a cliff or when he encounters one of Roadrunner's 'black holes.'.

Richard DeLombard
Richard DeLombard


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