Review: This book explores ideas of gravity from Aristotle to Newton to Einstein. Eleven major investigations, all carefully organized for the classroom, are the centerpieces of this book, which also offers some very clear writing about Einstein's theories. Intended for Grades 5-8, the book requires careful study by the teacher before putting the activities into practice.
We asked the authors of this book to comment on their work. They told us that students, using these ideas, "...have investigated matter, learned about different states of matter, puzzled over questions about the properties of matter and changes of states of matter. They are ready for the larger question: "Why does matter matter?"
Gilbert and Smith continued, "We begin with the idea that everything in the universe that occupies space and has mass is matter. In a universe empty of all matter, there would be no gravity. It is matter interacting with space that gernerates gravity. Matter in any form (solid, liquid, or gas) will generate gravity. In the beginning of the universe all of the matter was in the form of hydrogen and helium gas. This line of thought leads very rapidly to the study of the chemical elements."
The book is well worth your consideration for the study of matter, going well beyond the suggested 8th grade level.
Other Information: Gravity, The Glue of the Universe: History and Activities ($22.50) is available from Teacher Ideas Press, PO Box 6633, Englewood, CO 80155-6633. Call 800-237-6124.
As facilitators of learning we have the opportunity to orchestrate experiences that help children construct understanding. Often this requires the art of unraveling misconceptions associated with a given concept and building experiences that will provide evidence that can stand in contrast to the misconception. This is certainly one worth pursuing. One of the misconceptions associated with matter provides us with the opportunity to explore phase change through the lens of a "system".