Gravity when rock climbing

Part of:

Google Expeditions
Lesson overview

In this lesson students will develop their understanding of gravity as a natural force of attraction exerted by the earth, which pulls things down towards its surface. They will then go on to test the force of gravity and explain its importance in our everyday lives.

Learning outcomes
  • Describe the activity of rock climbing: what it is and how it’s done
  • Explain the basic science of rock climbing: the force of gravity
  • Demonstrate gravity in action
  • Explain how gravity works against climbers
  • Consider what life would be like without gravity

Expedition Prep Checklist

Download the Google Expeditions App on all devices and select expedition El Capitan.

Explore the expedition and locate points of interest.

Review the video content in the Lesson resources section to update your knowledge and develop some teaching ideas.

Lesson steps
  1. Introduction (10 mins)
    Students research rock climbing on El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, California, USA. Explain what is meant by a rock face and how climbers get to the top.
    Look at the book-marked images then lead a class discussion around what is meant by falling in relation to rock climbing.
    Ask students what equipment is used to prevent falling and how it might work.
  2. Expedition (20 mins)
    Students complete the expedition, during which you explain that gravity is a natural force of attraction exerted by the earth upon all objects at or near its surface. The force of gravity always pulls things downwards towards earth’s surface.

    Gravity is very important in our everyday lives, as without it all objects (including us) would fly off earth’s surface. We can’t ‘feel’ gravity, we only feel the effects of trying to overcome gravity by jumping or when we fall.
  3. Activity one (15 mins)
    The Student Sheet, found in the Lesson resources section includes a full test methodology.

    Test one: Using Student Sheet, students weigh two identical objects to ensure they are the same weight. Then drop the objects from a height of 100cm at the same time. Ask whether the objects hit the floor at the same time or not. Repeat. Then repeat twice from a height of 150cm.

    Test two: Repeat as above but with a different pair of identical objects, weighing a different amount to the first set of objects.

    Test three: Take an object from test one and test two and repeat as above.

    Students review their results and compare to their predictions.
  4. Activity two (15 mins)
    Ask students how gravity works against climbers. Students then write a paragraph answering these questions: Would gravity affect a climber higher up the rock face differently to a climber closer to the ground? Would gravity affect a heavier climber more than a lighter climber? Explain how height and weigh are affected by gravity.
  5. Extension
    Students write about what rock climbing would be like if there was no gravity and consider whether people would still want to rock climb as a hobby.