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The equivalence principle comes to school – falling objects and other middle school investigations

Journal article
Authors Ann-Marie Pendrill
Peter Ekström
Lena Hansson
Patrik Mars
Lassana Ouattara
Ulrika Ryan
Published in Physics Education
Volume 49
Issue 4
Pages 425-430
ISSN 0031-9120
Publication year 2014
Published at Department of Physics (GU)
Pages 425-430
Language en
Keywords gravity, free fall, nature of science, equivalence principle, ICT
Subject categories Physical Sciences, Media Engineering, Didactics, Learning


Comparing two objects falling together is a small-scale version of Galileo's classical experiment, demonstrating the equivalence between gravitational and inertial mass. We present here investigations by a group of 10-year olds, who used iPads to record the drops. The movie recordings were essential in the follow-up discussions, enabling the students to compare the different situations and to discern situations where air resistance was essential and where it could be neglected. By considering a number of familiar situations and simple investigations that can be performed e.g. on a playground, students may come closer to an appreciation of the deep significance of the non-influence of mass on motion under gravity.

Page Manager: Webmaster|Last update: 9/11/2012

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