What is Weight in Science? - Lesson for Kids

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  • 0:04 What Is Weight?
  • 0:27 Weight as a Force
  • 1:06 Matter & Weight
  • 2:11 Weight on the Moon
  • 2:29 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Wendy McDougal

Wendy has taught high school Biology and has a master's degree in education.

When you step onto a scale, you find out how much you weigh. But what does weight really measure, and what makes it vary depending on the object? Read more to find out.

What Is Weight?

Do you know how much you weigh? If not, what is the best way to find out? That's right, you can step onto a scale. Now here's another question: would your weight change if you took your scale to the moon and weighed yourself there?

In fact, you would weigh much less on the moon than you do here on Earth. Why? In this lesson, we'll answer this question as we take a closer look at what defines weight.

Weight as a Force

Let's imagine that you're standing on a scale to find out your weight. As you stand on the scale, it's actually measuring the relationship between you and a particular force. Can you guess which force that is? If you said gravity, you are correct!

Weight is actually a measure of the amount of force that you exert on the scale. This force is due to the pull of gravity.

Gravity, as you probably already know, is the force that pulls everything down. Whether we're talking about an elephant or a feather, gravity hugs everything to the earth in the same way.

Since the force of gravity is always the same, why do different objects weigh different amounts? The answer lies in how much matter the object has. Okay, so what is matter?

Matter & Weight

Just about everything is matter. For starters, you are matter. The chair you are sitting on is matter. In fact, when you look around, everything you see is matter. But that's not all: even the invisible air around you is matter!

That's because matter is anything that has mass and takes up space. When you multiply the amount of matter in something by the force of gravity, you get that thing's weight.

Matter x Gravity = Weight

As you might guess, the more matter on the scale, the higher the weight. For example, you can take a balloon and set it on the scale, recording its weight. Next, blow up the very same balloon. Now you have added matter to that balloon in the form of air. This creates more force, and therefore more weight.

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