The Great Gravity Escape is an outdoor based, kinesthetic activity designed to illustrate the role of gravity and velocity in orbital interactions by calculating the escape velocity for a water balloon “spacecraft” orbiting a student. The activity utilizes a twine/clothespin apparatus to represent the force of gravity while spinning motions represent velocity. It would be helpful if students are familiar with Newton’s Laws of Motion prior to starting this activity.
Two safety notes: since balloons are being used, teachers should check for latex allergies and safety glasses should be worn during the activity. The activity can be completed in one period; however, an additional period might be needed for discussion.