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Gravity Simulation Lab Name ________________________________

8th Grade PSI Score __________/40 points

Activity from http://www.physicsclassroom.com/shwave/gravdirns.cfm

Purpose:
The purpose of this activity is to investigate the variables that affect the gravitational
force between two objects and to investigate how these variables affect the gravitational
force between two objects.

Procedure:
1. Go to the following website to open up the online lab simulation:

http://www.physicsclassroom.com/shwave/gravitn.cfm

2. An object (small blue dot) and the Earth (larger blue circle) are shown in the online
simulation window. Click and drag the object to various positions about the earth and
observe the gravitational force vector that is shown in black. In the diagram below,
draw a force vector (arrow with arrowhead) to depict the direction and relative
magnitude of the force acting between the earth and the object. Note: the size of the
arrow indicates the strength of the force.

3. Is the effect between gravitational force and distance of separation (between object
and Earth) an inverse or direct effect? Explain how your observations in #2 show this
effect.

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4. How does the simulation show that the gravitational force is attractive?

5. Click and drag the object to various distances from Distance Fgrav(N)
the center of the Earth in order to determine the
effect of distance upon the gravitational force.
1REarth
Examine the effect of doubling, tripling and 2REarth
quadrupling the distance of separation (as
measured from Earth's center). Consider the 3REarth
Earth's surface to be a distance of one Earth- 4REarth
radius (1 REarth). Use the table at the right to
record data for whole-number multiples of REarth. 5REarth
Fgrav values can be found at the bottom right of the
simulation. 6REarth
7REarth
8REarth
9REarth
10REarth

6. Return the object to a distance of approximately 3-5 Earth radii from the Earth's
center.
a. Now alter the mass of the object. What do you observe?

b. Using your observations, explain what the relationship between


gravitational force and mass are (inverse or directly proportional).

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7. Use the simulation program to answer the following questions:

If the separation distance between the object and the Earth is ... (refer to step #5)

... increased by a factor of 2, then the Fgrav is ______________ by a factor of _____.

... increased by a factor of 3, then the Fgrav is ______________ by a factor of _____.

... increased by a factor of 4, then the Fgrav is ______________ by a factor of _____.

If the mass of the object is ... (refer to step #6)

... increased by a factor of 2, then the Fgrav is increased by a factor of _____.

... increased by a factor of 3, then the Fgrav is ______________ by a factor of _____.

... decreased by a factor of 4, then the Fgrav is ______________ by a factor of _____.

If the mass of the Earth is ... (refer to step #6)

... increased by a factor of 2, then the Fgrav is increased by a factor of _____.

... increased by a factor of 3, then the Fgrav is ______________ by a factor of _____.

... decreased by a factor of 4, then the Fgrav is ______________ by a factor of _____.

8. In your own words, summarize your lab experiment. Describe the variables that you
observed to affect the gravitational force between two objects. Also describe how
these variables affected the gravitational force between two objects. Use evidence
from your lab simulation to support your claims.

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