Gravity Lesson for Kids: Definition, Facts & Law

Instructor: Jeremy Cook

I have been teaching elementary school for 16 years. I have extensive experience in lesson and curriculum development and educational technology.

Gravity is what helps keep our feet grounded to the Earth and also causes us to fall! In this lesson, we'll learn what gravity is, how Earth's gravity works, and how gravity in the universe affects us and other objects in space.

What is Gravity?

Say you're riding your bike down the road, hit a bump and your bike comes crashing down with you on it. You're bumped, bruised and bleeding. You're also wondering why you went down when you lost control. Well, it's because of gravity, the force that attracts one object to another--the Earth's gravitational pull pulled you down with the bike.

Gravity is directly related to mass, the amount of 'stuff' in something. Anything that has mass has gravity, and the more mass, the more gravitational pull something has. Even your body has a gravitational pull! Fortunately, humans are so small compared to other things in the universe that our pull is pretty darn weak.

Gravity is pulling these skydivers back down to Earth.
Gravity Skydiving

Earth's Gravity

You know what does have a strong gravitational pull? The Earth! Have you ever stood for a long time without sitting down? Your feet were probably sore and tired, and that's because Earth's gravity is pulling you toward the center of the planet all day long. The Earth's surface is what keeps us from plummeting to the core of the Earth. Don't believe me? Go ahead and dig a small hole into the ground and jump in. Do you fall below the surface? Yep. That's gravity pulling you to the center.

Earth's gravity pulls on all objects with the same force. You may be thinking: That can't be true, because a bowling ball falls to the ground faster than feathers! However, the feathers reach the ground slower because of air resistance--they get pushed and pulled by the air on the way down. If you were to enter a vacuum--a space with completely no air--and drop a bowling ball and a feather at the same time, both would be pulled to the Earth at the same speed and reach the ground at the exact same time.

Gravity and the Universe

Just like the Earth is pulling us toward its center, the Sun (which is much bigger) is pulling the Earth and the other planets toward it. That's what causes the planets to orbit the sun. But don't worry--the sun isn't sucking the planets into its fiery storm--the planets also move naturally sideways, causing a perfect balance that causes curved movement around the sun but not into it.

The moon also has a gravitational pull, and this contributes to the tides in our oceans. While the Earth's gravity pulls the water downward, the moon's gravitational pull disrupts the Earth's and pulls water upward, causing the rising and falling motions of tides.

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