Explaining Black Holes to 5th Graders

  • Thread starter Lyuokdea
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  • #26
EnumaElish
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1. First introduce the concept of escape velocity in an "everyday example." We all know earth has gravity -- you cannot fly how hard you've tried, unless your family is the Incredibles. How can the planes fly? Because they go really fast -- but not fast enough to rise into space. The space shuttle goes faster than a plane, so it escapes earth's gravity and rises into space. But a giant planet like Jupiter is more massive so has more gravity; even a space shuttle could not escape Jupiter's gravity. The sun (a star) is even more massive.

2. What's the fastest thing out there? Faster than a rocket? Faster than any other thing you can imagine? It's light. Yep, kids, light is the fastest thing in the universe.

3. Imagine a "star" (or what used to be a star) which is so massive that a plane cannot escape it, the space shuttle cannot escape it, and even light, the fastest darn thing in the whole universe cannot escape from it. That type of a star is known as a black hole. It's black because light cannot escape it, so it appears black. And it's a hole because nothing that goes in can come out.

4. What happens when you approach a black hole? Etc...
 
  • #27
Char. Limit
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EnumaElish...

On 2, I'm imagining a tachyon. You are wrong!
 
  • #28
ideasrule
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Maybe you can introduce the formula F=GMm/r^2. It's one of the easiest formulas to intuitively understand: gravity is like light, thus the 1/r^2 relationship; force is proportional to one mass, so "M"; it's proportional to the smaller mass, so "m"; and of course we need a constant. Then explain that when a big mass gets compressed, r decreases, so surface gravity goes up.
 
  • #29
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You MUST talk about how space curves with a large mass and use this to explain gravity. Compare space to a trampoline. Talk about how light bends in gravitational fields, but is usually able to escape their pull...except for black holes.

DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE FIFTH GRADERS!
Some are really smart, and you do not want to bore them with facts they already know, your job is not to take away class time, it is to fish out prospective physicists.

Make sure to talk about:
-Event horizons
- Spacetime distortions around event horizons
- What "happens" when you enter a black hole
- Experimental evidence of black holes.
- Super massive black holes(especially Sagittarius A*)
- Talk about how lots of Physics doesn't work near black holes(try to explain T-symmetry)

Also include a couple videos on black holes like this:
http://q2cfestival.com/play.php?lecture_id=8242&talk=alice [Broken]
 
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