Theory Play Share & Discuss

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Teach Gravity
with Contraption Maker

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Learn more about gravity! In Contraption Maker, you must master using gravity to solve puzzles.

Teacher Resources

  • Theory: This lesson focuses on gravity and its representation in-game.
  • Play: The students complete several levels in the game and make notes.
  • Share & Discuss: These tasks focus on the playing experience and how gravity works.

Theory: Gravity

  • “Gravity, or gravitation, is a natural phenomenon by which all things with mass are brought toward (or gravitate toward) one another, including objects ranging from atoms and particles of light, to planets and stars.” (source)
  • Mass and distance determine the gravitational pull between two objects, with larger objects having a greater pull and distance greatly reducing gravitational pull
  • One of the four forces of the universe (along with strong nuclear, weak nuclear and electromagnetic forces)
  • Gravity greatly declines in power over distance, although the effect technically never ends (it just becomes too minor to have any real effect)

Orbits around Earth.

Teacher Resources


Lesson Goal

Play Contraption Maker! Complete the steps below in order.

  1. Play the tutorial puzzle number 3 (Balls). Make notes: how well does the puzzle represent gravity? What is different in the game when compared to real life?
  2. Complete the Tutorial Puzzles 13-24 (Ray Gun - Wind).
  3. Move on to the Easy Does It puzzles once you’re done with the tutorial puzzles (the game will let you do that automatically).

Teacher Resources

Leave this slide open as the students are playing.

When you have about 5-10 minutes of lesson time remaining, have the students stop playing and move on to the next slides.

How to Play

To start playing, click on Puzzles.

Gameplay screenshot

Next, select the puzzle pack you'd like to play. It's a good idea to begin with the first one, Tutorial Puzzles.

Gameplay screenshot

Finally, select the puzzle you would like to play.

Gameplay screenshot

Share & Discuss

Share & Discuss

  • Did you have trouble with any puzzle? Do you want to know how it is solved?
  • How does the “Balls” level portray gravity? Could the level be recreated in real life?
  • How far along did you get? What was your favorite puzzle?

Teacher Resources

Note: The “Balls” level could be recreated, with a crucial difference: cue balls move in actual life. This level is an excellent portrayal of how objects with different masses but similar shapes fall at the same speed, and bounce depending on their consistency and mass.

Tasks after Playing

  • How does mass and distance affect gravity?
Show Notes

Greater bodies of mass have more powerful gravitational pulls. This is how planets were initially formed: small pieces slowly formed into larger bodies by ever growing bodies attracting smaller masses to themselves. Distance greatly reduces the power of gravity, although it never cancels it out completely: even if you were a trillion miles away from the Sun, you would still be affected by its gravity (even if only technically).

  • How far away would you need to get away from Earth so that you were no longer affected by Earth’s gravity?
Show Notes

This is a trick question, because gravitational forces never end, they just become so insignificant over long distances that they have no effect. It is not easy to calculate the distance at which a body would not longer be influenced by Earth’s gravity in any significant way. It’s important to remember that many objects in space that are not in orbit around Earth are still affected by Earth’s gravity, such as passing comets and asteroids.

  • Argument: the direction of gravity is down. Use examples from the game to support this argument.
Show Notes

There are many objects in-game that support this argument. Anything living, such as mice, cats and dogs, are always falling down in-game if there is nothing underneath them that can support their weight. Anti-gravity pads reverse gravity, making things travel upwards, implying that the regular direction for gravity is to go downward.