Galileo and gravity

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By Gillian Ravenscroft

Use Galileo as a starting point for science investigations about gravity.

Along with the acquisition of scientific knowledge and conceptual understanding, the new draft primary curriculum recommends that children are given the opportunity to appreciate ‘specific applications’ of science in society. The study of several scientists and inventors – including Dunlop, Macintosh and Darwin – is suggested in the ‘notes and guidance’ sections for Key Stage 1 and 2.

The Programme of Study for Forces in Year 5 states that pupils should be taught to ‘explain that unsupported objects fall towards the Earth because of the force of gravity acting between the Earth and the falling object’. In the accompanying notes, it suggests that pupils find out how both Galileo and Newton contributed to theories on gravitation. Stories about either scientist will appeal to children and provide ideas for practical investigations in the classroom, but to give a historical context to these theories, begin by introducing them to the work of Galileo.

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