Theory Play Share & Discuss

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Teach Our Solar System
with Gravity Simulator

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Theory

Our Solar System

What do you know of our solar system? What is a solar system? A galaxy? The universe?

Teacher Resources

This lesson provides a look at our Solar System. The next slide provides a review of the last lesson’s concepts on matter, and the following slides provide new information on the universe for the students.

  • Theory: This lesson is all about our solar system and how to simulate it in the game.
  • Play: Students utilize a code to simulate our solar system in Gravity Simulator.
  • Share & Discuss: These slides focus on tasks that concern our solar system.

Groups in Space

Have you heard of these concepts?

The Solar System is our Sun and the objects that orbit it, including Earth.

A Star System or Stellar System is a small number of stars that orbit each other.

A Planetary System is a set of gravitationally bound non-stellar objects in orbit around a star or star system.

A Galaxy is a gravitationally bound system of stars, stellar remnants, interstellar gas, dust, and dark matter.

The Universe is all of time and space and its content, which includes planets, moons, minor planets, stars, galaxies, the contents of intergalactic space and all matter and energy.

Gameplay screenshot.

Earth's location in the universe.

Earth's location in the universe.

Teacher Resources

Play

Playing Code

Copy the code to the game from here:

https://goo.gl/PRmCKg

Teacher Resources

For today’s tasks, students need to input this code into Gravity Simulator to begin. You can either copy this code and send it to your students (with email or other kind of instant message) or you can print out this copy. Remind your students that all the values must be exact for the code to work.

The Code:
/Gravity fun at TestTubeGames
_settings(gravity: r^-2, x: -216.9865, y: 6.899657, zoom: 4.717124, name: Solar System);
_type0(m: 1000, col: 2, lcol: 3, d: 0.05828428, noGrav);\ _type1(m: 0, col: 4, lcol: 3);
_type2(m: 0, col: 4, lcol: 3);
_type3(m: 0, col: 4, lcol: 3);
_type4(m: 0, col: 4, lcol: 3);
_type5(m: 0, col: 4, lcol: 3, rObj: 20);
_type6(m: 0, col: 4, lcol: 3, rObj: 20);
_type7(m: 0, col: 4, lcol: 3, rObj: 20);
_type8(m: 0, col: 4, lcol: 3,);
_type9(m: 0, col: 4, lcol: 3, rObj: 20);
_add(type: 0, x: 0, y: 0);
_add(type: 1, x: 80, y: 0, vy: 3.535534);
_add(type: 2, x: 160, y: 0, vy: 2.5);
_add(type: 3, x: 220, y: 0, vy: 2.132007);
_add(type: 4, x: 320, y: 0, vy: 1.767767);
_add(type: 5, x: 1120, y: 0, vy: 0.9449112);
_add(type: 6, x: 2060, y: 0, vy: 0.696733);
_add(type: 7, x: 4120, y: 0, vy: 0.4926646);
_add(type: 8, x: 8500, y: 0, vx: 0.004034842, vy: 0.3429616);
_add(type: 9, x: 6460, y: 0, vx: 0.006089382, vy: 0.3933741);

Our Solar System: Tasks

  1. Name the planets correctly - you can use the Internet to learn which is which based on their order.
Show Notes

Wikipedia also provides an excellent shorthand for setting the names. To rename the planets, click on them with the pointer tool and modify the name in the planet’s info box.

  1. Color the planets with the right colors (NASA.org can help!).
Show Notes

The same Wikipedia article also provides an excellent guide on the color of the planets. Simply use the same dialog box that you use to rename the planets.

  1. Look at the mass of the planets. What do you find? What is the mass of the Sun? Why? What are the real masses of the planets and the Sun?
Show Notes

The Sun’s mass is so massive relative to the planets that the planets have the simulator’s minimum value: 0. Since the Sun is set to be at the value 1000, even a value of 1 would be too much for a planet in relation to the Sun’s incredible mass! It’s important to note that the value 0 does not signify that the planets have no mass; just that they are very small in every way when compared to the Sun.

  1. What happens if you change any planet’s mass to “1”? Why?
Show Notes

Nothing. This change is not significant enough to override the Sun’s gravity in any way, so the same orbits persist.

  1. What happens if you try to space bowl with the Sun’s gravity with a small planet? Why?
Show Notes

If the bowled planet’s velocity is great enough and/or it’s sufficiently far away from the Sun, it can pass by the Sun but its trajectory is very likely influenced by the Sun’s gravity. Other planets may also be slightly influenced by the planet you are bowling with, if they are close enough when the bowled planet moves.

How to Play

Gravity Simulator main screen.

After you’ve launched Gravity Simulator, this is the main screen. Your students should select the load from code option, but below are descriptions for each option for your convenience.

  • Build: Start the simulation with nothing in it. Useful for experiments when you want to work on something specific.
  • Load from code: Loads up a ready-to-go simulation. Quickly gets you started and is the easiest way to learn how the simulator works.
  • Toggle fullscreen: This lets you play the simulator in a window or in fullscreen mode. This is a purely personal preference and has no effect on the simulation itself.
  • Exit the universe: Stop playing and close the program.

Share & Discuss

Share & Discuss

  • How does our Solar System work? How big is the Sun?
Show Notes

The sun is truly enormous, its mass is approximately 332 946 times the mass of Earth!

  • Was there something you wanted to do in the simulator but didn’t know how to? What was it?

Tasks after Playing

  • How big is the Sun’s mass in relation to the planets of our Solar System?
Show Notes

The Sun is truly enormous and contains over 98% of all the mass in our Solar System. In relation to our planet, the Sun has over 332 946 times the mass! This incredible mass and size explain how the Sun is able to maintain all the planets in orbit.

  • What do the following terms mean: galaxy, star system, planetary system, the universe?
Show Notes

Galaxy: is a gravitationally bound system of stars, stellar remnants, interstellar gas, dust, and dark matter.
Star System: or Stellar System is a small number of stars that orbit each other.
Planetary System: is a set of gravitationally bound non-stellar objects in orbit around a star or star system.
The Universe: is all of time and space and its content, which includes planets, moons, minor planets, stars, galaxies, the contents of intergalactic space and all matter and energy.