Materials Contributed through SERC-hosted Projects
Learning to Think about Gravity: Newtons's Theory part of comPADRE Pedagogic Library:Interactive Lectures:Examples
Leading questions: How and why do the apples fall to the ground? Why does the Moon not fall from the sky? What is gravity? In the past 20 years the concepts of force and motion and Newton's three laws have been discussed widely in the science education literature, however, the concept of gravity has not yet been discussed extensively. We will address the concept of gravity using a historical constructivist approach: We will review Aristotle's views on gravity and compare and contract that to Newton's views. We will introduce the possibility that gravity is a force and then discuss the effects of this force on objects in motion. We will also discuss how the Cannon Ball thought experiment proves that the Newton's Law of Gravity is universal and contrary to Aristotle's concepts is applied to heavenly as well as earthly objects.
Learning to Think about Gravity II: Aristotle to Einstein part of comPADRE Pedagogic Library:Interactive Lectures:Examples
We will discuss the basics of Aristotelian, Newtonian, and Einsteinian theories of Gravity and the implications of each theory. We will also review the basics of General Relativity and then consider how each of the three scientists interpret free fall and orbital motion. We will compare and contract the essence of each theory by forming a classification rubric. We will employ "distributed cognition groups," discuss some parallels in the interpretations between Aristotle and Einstein, and consider how Newton's theory is different from the other two. Students will learn how scientific theories are constructed, how they are validated, and how they are overthrown by theories that do a better job explaining nature. Leading questions to be addressed: (1) What is gravity - is it a force? What is circular motion - is it "free motion?" (2) What are students' pre-instructional conceptions about gravity? (3) What concepts about gravity do Aristotle and Einstein share - how is Newton different? (4) Why don't we teach Einstein's notion of gravity in the classroom - knowing that Newton's theory has been superseded?