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Exploring Gravity at Home

By J. D. Harlan|M. S. Rivkin
Pearson Allyn Bacon Prentice Hall

Your child has been investigating gravity—the force that pulls everything toward Earth’s center. Encourage him or her to share these new ideas with you. Then have some fun with gravity.

A Balky Balloon. Blow up two small balloons of the same size and color, if possible. Tie one; let the air out of the other. Using a small funnel, put a tablespoonful of uncooked rice or a few small pebbles into the emptied balloon. Now blow it up again and tie it. Let your child try to blow the two balloons over the edge of a table. Which one rolls off? Which one tips, but stays put on the edge of the table? Can your child figure out how gravity made the difference? Compare the weight of each balloon to find out.

A Balancing Act. You’ll need a ball of play dough or a potato you are going to fix for dinner, and two metal forks to have a neat gravity experience. First, see if you or your child can balance the play dough or potato on the tip of one finger. Then, insert the tines of the forks so the forks angle downward on opposite sides of the ball or potato. They should be stuck in about 1/3 of the way from the bottom. Now try the balancing act! Most of the weight is below the finger now, so the potato or play dough stays balanced.

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