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published by the WGBH Educational Foundation
supported by the NASA
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 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.

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Subjects Levels Resource Types
- Fundamentals
= Gravity
- Space Exploration
= Human Exploration
Classical Mechanics
- Applications of Newton's Laws
- Motion in Two Dimensions
= Central Forces
- Rotational Dynamics
= Transfer of Angular Momentum
Education Practices
- Technology
= Multimedia
Fluid Mechanics
- Dynamics of Fluids
- Middle School
- High School
- Informal Education
- Instructional Material
= Activity
- Audio/Visual
= Movie/Animation
Intended Users Formats Ratings
- Learners
- Educators
- General Publics
- video/quicktime
- application/flash
- text/html
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Access Rights:
Free access
© 2010 WGBH Educational Foundation
angular velocity, center of mass, centrifuge, centripetal acceleration, circular motion, gravitational acceleration
Record Cloner:
Metadata instance created November 19, 2012 by Caroline Hall
Record Updated:
March 20, 2014 by Caroline Hall
Other Collections:

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)

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.
4F. Motion
  • 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.
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Record Link
AIP Format
(WGBH Educational Foundation, Boston, 2010), WWW Document, (
PBS Learning Media: Teaching from Space - Centripetal Force, (WGBH Educational Foundation, Boston, 2010), <>.
APA Format
PBS Learning Media: Teaching from Space - Centripetal Force. (2010). Retrieved October 17, 2018, from WGBH Educational Foundation:
Chicago Format
NASA. PBS Learning Media: Teaching from Space - Centripetal Force. Boston: WGBH Educational Foundation, 2010. (accessed 17 October 2018).
MLA Format
PBS Learning Media: Teaching from Space - Centripetal Force. Boston: WGBH Educational Foundation, 2010. NASA. 17 Oct. 2018 <>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Title = {PBS Learning Media: Teaching from Space - Centripetal Force}, Publisher = {WGBH Educational Foundation}, Volume = {2018}, Number = {17 October 2018}, Year = {2010} }
Refer Export Format

%T PBS Learning Media: Teaching from Space - Centripetal Force
%D 2010
%I WGBH Educational Foundation
%C Boston
%O video/quicktime

EndNote Export Format

%0 Electronic Source
%D 2010
%T PBS Learning Media: Teaching from Space - Centripetal Force
%I WGBH Educational Foundation
%V 2018
%N 17 October 2018
%9 video/quicktime

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Citation Source Information

The AIP Style presented is based on information from the AIP Style Manual.

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Same topic as PBS Learning Media: Centripetal Force - Roller Coaster Loops

Five-minute video that explores centripetal force through the motion of a looping roller coaster.

relation by Caroline Hall

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