Groovy Gravity

Stimulates a sense of experimentation and discovery

Gravity pulls, no doubt about it. Sit outside with your child and listen for gravity at work. Can you hear a pinecone drop? A wave crash on the shore? A raindrop splatter?

Use your senses to experiment with gravity. Together, collect items from nature: pebbles, twigs, blades of grass, sand, soil, water, a feather, a rock. Drop each item, individually, into the palm of your child’s hand. Ask her how it feels when gravity pulls each object to land in her hand.

Do some items land more softly than others? (Lighter objects will have less impact when they fall.)

What happens when those same objects are dropped from different heights? Do they feel different? (An object dropped from a greater height will have a stronger impact than one dropped from a short distance.)

Smooth out some dirt or sand. Ask your child to collect some natural objects (such as rocks, pebbles, shells). Drop a rock into the smooth soil or sand. What kind of impact did it make?

Now try dropping a smaller rock from the same height into the soil or sand. Does the size of the impression change?

Experiment by dropping the same object(s) from different heights, smoothing out the sand or soil in between. Do the falling objects make different shaped and sized impressions?

What happens if a rock is thrown into the soil or sand from an angle? What kind of impression is created?

Help Me Understand
Q: Why does an object dropped from a high height land with a heavier impact than when it’s dropped from a lower height?
A: Falling objects accelerate, or move faster, as they fall. This causes them to land with more force.

This activity is excerpted from:
I Love Dirt!: 52 Activities to Help You & Your Kids
Discover the Wonders of Nature
Jennifer Ward
2008, Trumpeter Books