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    In this activity, students use a scale model of the Earth and identify altitudes of various satellites. They then use a smaller object on a string to model gravity and satellite motion.

    By the end of this activity, students should be able to:

    • describe how far above the surface of the Earth satellites orbit
    • demonstrate different types of orbit
    • explain that the attraction of gravity always pulls satellites towards the centre of the Earth and that this force causes circular motion
    • demonstrate how a satellite will move in a circular orbit only if it is travelling at the right speed.

    Download the Word file for:

    • introduction/background notes
    • what you need
    • what to do
    • discussion points
    • extension ideas.

    Download the Download the Excel spreadsheet for scale distances in space.

      Published 27 March 2013, Updated 13 August 2015 Referencing Hub articles