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Navigating by Good Gyrations

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Grade Levels

Grades 5-8, Grades 9-12


Physical Science, Forces and Motion, Physics


Lesson Plans / Activities

Gyroscopes are simple devices that seem to defy gravity. They are important to NASA because they help spacecraft such as the International Space Station and the Hubble Space Telescope stay on course. Teachers can use a spinning bicycle wheel to demonstrate how a gyroscope works. This demonstration contains four gyro “tricks” with explanations of why the gyro behaves as it does. The demonstration has definitions for inertia, momentum, angular momentum, centripetal force and linear momentum. After demonstrating how gyros work, teachers can give examples of how gyros are used in spacecraft. The activity also includes discussion questions.
Navigating by Good Gyrations Activity [367KB PDF file]
The Navigating by Good Gyrations activity was created by The Space Place.
For Earth- and space-science-related games and projects, visit Additional curriculum support material can be found at the Space Place Teachers’ Corner at