Exploring the Universe: Orbiting Objects (2017, 2020)

  • Exploring the Universe: Orbiting Objects activity image
NISE Network product

"Exploring the Universe: Orbiting Objects" is a hands-on activity that invites visitors to experiment with different sized and weighted balls on a stretchy fabric gravity well. The activity models gravitational attraction in space. Participants investigate how changing conditions can cause phenomena like stellar wobble and planet formation.



Big Idea

Weighted objects on a stretchy sheet can model gravitational attraction in space. Changing conditions in this model can explain phenomena like stellar wobble and planet formation.

Learning Goals

The force of gravity influences everything (with mass) in space.

Every object in space exerts a gravitational pull on every other object.

Gravity keeps objects orbiting other objects, and prevents them from flying off into space.



This material is based upon work supported by NASA under cooperative agreement award number NNX16AC67A. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Owning institution

The Science Museum of Minnesota

Development Process

NISE Network products are developed through an iterative collaborative process that includes scientific review, peer review, and visitor evaluation in accordance with an inclusive audiences approach. Products are designed to be easily edited and adapted for different audiences under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike license. To learn more, visit our Development Process page.