SC.8.E.5.4

Explore the Law of Universal Gravitation by explaining the role that gravity plays in the formation of planets, stars, and solar systems and in determining their motions.
General Information
Subject Area: Science
Grade: 8
Body of Knowledge: Earth and Space Science
Idea: Level 3: Strategic Thinking & Complex Reasoning
Big Idea: Earth in Space and Time - The origin and eventual fate of the Universe still remains one of the greatest questions in science. Gravity and energy influence the formation of galaxies, including our own Milky Way Galaxy, stars, the planetary systems, and Earth. Humankind’s need to explore continues to lead to the development of knowledge and understanding of the nature of the Universe.
Date Adopted or Revised: 02/08
Date of Last Rating: 05/08
Status: State Board Approved
Assessed: Yes

Related Courses

This benchmark is part of these courses.
2002100: M/J Comprehensive Science 3 (Specifically in versions: 2014 - 2015, 2015 - 2022, 2022 and beyond (current))
2002110: M/J Comprehensive Science 3, Advanced (Specifically in versions: 2014 - 2015, 2015 - 2022, 2022 and beyond (current))
2001010: M/J Earth/Space Science (Specifically in versions: 2014 - 2015, 2015 - 2022, 2022 and beyond (current))
2001020: M/J Earth/Space Science, Advanced (Specifically in versions: 2014 - 2015, 2015 - 2022, 2022 and beyond (current))
7820017: Access M/J Comprehensive Science 3 (Specifically in versions: 2014 - 2015, 2015 - 2018, 2018 and beyond (current))
2002085: M/J Comprehensive Science 2 Accelerated Honors (Specifically in versions: 2014 - 2015, 2015 - 2022, 2022 and beyond (current))
7920035: Fundamental Integrated Science 2 (Specifically in versions: 2013 - 2015, 2015 - 2017 (course terminated))
2001025: M/J STEM Astronomy and Space Science (Specifically in versions: 2015 - 2022, 2022 and beyond (current))

Related Access Points

Alternate version of this benchmark for students with significant cognitive disabilities.
SC.8.E.5.Pa.1: Recognize that the Moon is closer to Earth than the Sun.
SC.8.E.5.Su.3: Identify that there are planets and moons in the Solar System.
SC.8.E.5.In.4: Identify gravity as the force that holds orbiting planets in place in the Solar System.

Related Resources

Vetted resources educators can use to teach the concepts and skills in this benchmark.

Lesson Plans

Visualizing the Universal Law of Gravity:

Students will be able to visualize how mass and distance influence gravity. Using simple materials, students will explore how mass and distance affect gravitational pull through this 5-E lesson.

Type: Lesson Plan

Gravity! What the deal?:

This lesson teaches the students how distance and mass affect gravity in a system using centripetal force. This is best done when correlating to the formation of the solar system.

Type: Lesson Plan

Dear Uni Verse: Advice Column for Stars and Planets:

In this lesson students will explore The Law of Universal Gravitation. Students will respond to fictional letters from planets and stars seeking advice on topics that deal with gravity. The advice column will reinforce the concept of Universal Gravitation and give students an opportunity to practice argumentation as they formulate their responses.

Type: Lesson Plan

Original Student Tutorial

The Law of Universal Gravitation:

Learn about Isaac Newton's Law of Universal Gravitation. This law helps calculate the force of gravity dependent on the mass of the objects and the distance between them. 

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Teaching Idea

The Origin of the Moon:

Most planetary scientists expected that lunar samples brought to Earth at the end of each of the six Apollo missions would confirm one of three leading hypotheses of the Moon's origin. Instead, samples left all three explanations unconfirmed, requiring the development of a new hypothesis for how the Moon formed. This video segment adapted from NOVA shows Apollo 15 astronauts collecting a type of rock that would help change our understanding of the Moon's - and Earth's - earliest history.

Type: Teaching Idea

Text Resource

We Are Stardust:

This informational text resource is intended to support reading in the content area. This text examines how humans and all things around us are made of elements created in stars. The article references fusion, the powerful collision of enormous stars, and the intense explosion of supernovas. All of this is tied to the creation of heavier elements that hurtle through space, to be reassembled as distant solar systems.

Type: Text Resource

Video/Audio/Animations

What is a Planet?:

This video provides a historical background about the definition of a planet and how different objects discovered in space were classified as planets or fir into a different category

Type: Video/Audio/Animation

Science Crossword Puzzles:

A collection of crossword puzzles that test the knowledge of students about some of the terms, processes, and classifications covered in science topics

Type: Video/Audio/Animation

Jupiter: Earth's Shield:

More than 155 planets have been found outside of our solar system since the first extra-solar planet was identified in 1995. The search has long been heavily biased towards finding massive planets with short orbits. Now, to find an Earth-like planet, scientists are looking for a planetary setup that is similar to our own, in which a Jupiter-like planet lies a good distance away from its sun. This video segment adapted from NOVA explores how the arrangement of planets in our solar system may have affected the development of life on Earth.

Type: Video/Audio/Animation

Why Doesn't the Moon Fall Down?:

The Moon, Earth's natural satellite, seems to hover in the sky, unaffected by gravity. However, the reason the Moon stays in orbit is precisely because of gravity -- a universal force that attracts objects. With the right combination of speed and gravity, satellites can fall around, instead of into, the body that they orbit. In this animated video segment adapted from NASA, learn about how the Moon stays in orbit around Earth.

Type: Video/Audio/Animation

Virtual Manipulatives

My Solar System:

This simulation demonstrates the effect of gravitation in determining planetary orbits as well as that of comets and satellites. This simulation allows you to change initial positions, velocities and masses of bodies and see the resulting orbit.

Type: Virtual Manipulative

How Fast do Objects Move in the Solar Sytem?:

This interactive demonstrates the impacts of the gravitational force of the sun on motion of objects in the solar system.

Type: Virtual Manipulative

Gravity and Orbits Simulation:

In this simulation, students will learn the orbits of the Earth and moon as well as gravitational forces. This is a good illustration of the gravitational pull causing tides.

Type: Virtual Manipulative

The Life Cycle of the Star/H-R Diagram:

This is a great resource with online lessons providing inquiry as you learn about the life cycle of the star as well as the usages of the H-R diagram. The images provide a conceptual understanding of the life cycle of the star and how it applies to the H-R diagram. You will enjoy the interactive lab tools as well as the online formative assessment questions.

Type: Virtual Manipulative

Original Student Tutorials Science - Grades K-8

The Law of Universal Gravitation:

Learn about Isaac Newton's Law of Universal Gravitation. This law helps calculate the force of gravity dependent on the mass of the objects and the distance between them. 

Student Resources

Vetted resources students can use to learn the concepts and skills in this benchmark.

Original Student Tutorial

The Law of Universal Gravitation:

Learn about Isaac Newton's Law of Universal Gravitation. This law helps calculate the force of gravity dependent on the mass of the objects and the distance between them. 

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Video/Audio/Animations

What is a Planet?:

This video provides a historical background about the definition of a planet and how different objects discovered in space were classified as planets or fir into a different category

Type: Video/Audio/Animation

Science Crossword Puzzles:

A collection of crossword puzzles that test the knowledge of students about some of the terms, processes, and classifications covered in science topics

Type: Video/Audio/Animation

Jupiter: Earth's Shield:

More than 155 planets have been found outside of our solar system since the first extra-solar planet was identified in 1995. The search has long been heavily biased towards finding massive planets with short orbits. Now, to find an Earth-like planet, scientists are looking for a planetary setup that is similar to our own, in which a Jupiter-like planet lies a good distance away from its sun. This video segment adapted from NOVA explores how the arrangement of planets in our solar system may have affected the development of life on Earth.

Type: Video/Audio/Animation

Virtual Manipulatives

My Solar System:

This simulation demonstrates the effect of gravitation in determining planetary orbits as well as that of comets and satellites. This simulation allows you to change initial positions, velocities and masses of bodies and see the resulting orbit.

Type: Virtual Manipulative

How Fast do Objects Move in the Solar Sytem?:

This interactive demonstrates the impacts of the gravitational force of the sun on motion of objects in the solar system.

Type: Virtual Manipulative

The Life Cycle of the Star/H-R Diagram:

This is a great resource with online lessons providing inquiry as you learn about the life cycle of the star as well as the usages of the H-R diagram. The images provide a conceptual understanding of the life cycle of the star and how it applies to the H-R diagram. You will enjoy the interactive lab tools as well as the online formative assessment questions.

Type: Virtual Manipulative

Parent Resources

Vetted resources caregivers can use to help students learn the concepts and skills in this benchmark.