the WGBH Educational Foundation
This unique five-minute video features a NASA astronaut demonstrating centripetal force in ways students cannot observe in daily life. The video was shot in a weightless environment -- on board the International Space Station. The astronaut swings a tethered tool around a cord, rotates a bag of tea to show how air bubbles are pushed to the center, and spins a water droplet to show deformation resulting from centripetal force. The video was designed to promote understanding of the force that keeps planets in their orbits and keeps humans in their seats on a looping roller coaster. The video itself was developed by the NASA Teaching from Space program, and packaged by Teachers' Domain to include background information and discussion questions.
PBS Learning Media is a growing collection of videos, lessons, and activities assembled by researchers, scientists, and experienced teachers to promote the use of digital resources in the classroom.
Please note that this resource requires
angular velocity, center of mass, centrifuge, centripetal acceleration, circular motion, gravitational acceleration
Metadata instance created
November 19, 2012
by Caroline Hall
March 20, 2014
by Caroline Hall
AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008 Version)
4. The Physical Setting
4B. The Earth
6-8: 4B/M3. Everything on or anywhere near the earth is pulled toward the earth's center by gravitational force.
3-5: 4F/E1bc. The greater the force is, the greater the change in motion will be. The more massive an object is, the less effect a given force will have.
6-8: 4F/M3a. An unbalanced force acting on an object changes its speed or direction of motion, or both.
6-8: 4F/M3b. If a force acts towards a single center, the object's path may curve into an orbit around the center.
9-12: 4F/H1. The change in motion (direction or speed) of an object is proportional to the applied force and inversely proportional to the mass.
9-12: 4F/H2. All motion is relative to whatever frame of reference is chosen, for there is no motionless frame from which to judge all motion.
4G. Forces of Nature
6-8: 4G/M2. 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.
Next Generation Science Standards
Disciplinary Core Ideas (K-12)
Forces and Motion (PS2.A)
The motion of an object is determined by the sum of the forces acting on it; if the total force on the object is not zero, its motion will change. The greater the mass of the object, the greater the force needed to achieve the same change in motion. For any given object, a larger force causes a larger change in motion. (6-8)
If a system interacts with objects outside itself, the total momentum of the system can change; however, any such change is balanced by changes in the momentum of objects outside the system. (9-12)
Crosscutting Concepts (K-12)
Cause and Effect (K-12)
Cause and effect relationships may be used to predict phenomena in natural or designed systems. (6-8)
Energy and Matter (2-12)
Within a natural or designed system, the transfer of energy drives the motion and/or cycling of matter. (6-8)
This resource is part of 2 Physics Front Topical Units.
Topic: Kinematics: The Physics of Motion Unit Title: The Case of Roller Coasters
Exactly what IS centripetal force and what does it do? An astronaut on board the International Space Station demonstrates this force in ways students cannot observe in daily life. The environment is "almost" weightless, making it easy to observe the center-seeking motion without the complicating effects of gravity.
Topic: Dynamics: Forces and Motion Unit Title: Rotational Dynamics
Exactly what IS centripetal force and what does it do? This short video shot from NASA's International Space Station will help students understand the center-seeking force that results in circular motion. The environment is weightless, making it easy to watch the motion without the complicating effects of gravity.
PBS Learning Media: Teaching from Space - Centripetal Force. (2010). Retrieved August 26, 2016, from WGBH Educational Foundation: http://www.pbslearningmedia.org/resource/npe11.sci.phys.maf.centripetal/teaching-from-space-centripetal-force/
%T PBS Learning Media: Teaching from Space - Centripetal Force %D 2010 %I WGBH Educational Foundation %C Boston %U http://www.pbslearningmedia.org/resource/npe11.sci.phys.maf.centripetal/teaching-from-space-centripetal-force/ %O video/quicktime
%0 Electronic Source %D 2010 %T PBS Learning Media: Teaching from Space - Centripetal Force %I WGBH Educational Foundation %V 2016 %N 26 August 2016 %9 video/quicktime %U http://www.pbslearningmedia.org/resource/npe11.sci.phys.maf.centripetal/teaching-from-space-centripetal-force/
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